HAMILTON: Sabres attempting to show that they're playing for pride
New York, NY (WGR 550) -- The Sabres had a very good first period in Madison Square Garden. Despite having to kill off two penalties, the Sabres had a 12-9 shots advantage and some very good scoring opportunities.
Zemgus Girgensons scrored two goals in his last game and had two great opportunities in the first 20 minutes.
The first was the shooting end of a 4-on-2 which was deflected over the net. The second was a deflection off a point shot that Henrik Lundqvist barely got his right pad on.
Chris Stewart had a great chance to score his first goal as a Sabre when Dominic Moore and Dan Girardi ran into each other. Stewart went in 2-on-1, but shot it right into Lundqvist’s chest protector.
Buffalo had all the shots early, but Matt Hackett’s first save came on a Benoit Pouliot breakaway.
The Sabres problem all season has been maintaining good play throughout 60 minutes and this game was no different.
The Sabres were absolutely awful in the second period spending the whole period in their own end. The Rangers outshot them 18-1, yet both teams scored once in the stanza.
"There's a certain recipe that worked in the first," said Matt Ellis. "I thought the one thing that we did right up and down the lineup, is we weren't afraid to kick pucks out wide, we weren't afraid to put pucks on net with guys driving. The more pucks you get to the net, the more you're playing on top of them. In the second, we started playing around a little bit in the neutral zone, tried being a little bit too fancy at the blue line. Next thing you know, they're playing on top of us and they're coming right back down our throats."
Buffalo got the first goal when Mike Weber’s shot was tipped home by Drew Stafford for his 16th. Stafford had missed four games due to injury and had gone five games before that without scoring a goal.
It was all Hackett until at 19:21. Mats Zaccarello went with a long cross ice pass to Benoit Pouliot and this time he made no mistake beating Hackett on the short side.
Right before that on a power play Hackett got hit in the mask on a rising Brad Richards shot. He stayed down stunned, but was able to shake it off.
Right before that Brian Flynn showed he hasn’t mailed this season in as he totally sold out to block two shots shorthanded.
Hackett did all he could with 26 saves in 40 minutes. "I thought [Hackett] played a real strong game," said Ted Nolan. "He kept us in the game."
"[Hackett] played awesome, he kept us in it," said Stafford. "Unfortunately, we couldn't bury our chances and we got into some early penalty trouble."
Lundqvist did not make a save in the second period. Lundqvist's save on Stewart came at 17:50 of the first period. His next save didn't come until he stopped Stafford at the 4:22 mark of the third. The Rangers goalie went 26:32 without a save and only one shot. Lundqvist didn't go cold. He made a great stop on Marcus Foligno from in close and Ville Leino just missed getting to the rebound.
After getting 18 shots in the second period, the Rangers went the first 13:39 of the third before getting their first shot. New York finished with only three shots in the final period, but one of them went in -- a one-timer by Rick Nash from Martin St. Louis, giving the Rangers a one-goal lead less than two minutes to play.
The Sabres started well, really played poorly, but came out with some direction in the third. It was a pretty strange game for both teams.
"It was a weird game," said Drew Stafford. "[Hackett] played great. He made some really key saves. Unfortunately, we were just on the wrong end of a couple chances. We couldn't buy a shot there in the second period. We ended up scoring, but it was a disappointing one because I felt as though we could have had it."