If you watched the last two New York Rangers games you would never know they were ranked 17th in goals per game with a 2.5 percentage. The Rangers scored in bunches on Friday night in Buffalo with an eight goal outburst, one night after putting up six against the Panthers at home. Led by Brad Richards, who finally scored a hat-trick in his 13th season, the Rangers secured another two big points with an 8-4 whitewash of the Sabres to claim sole possession of the eighth and final playoff spot in the East.
With five and a half minutes to play in the opening period, the Rangers had the best chance thus far. Christian Ehrhoff turned the puck over, Rick Nash collected it and skated in on a clean breakaway, but Ryan Miller stayed with it and made the blocker save on Nash’s wrister. With just over three minutes to play there had been several icings with the team’s feeling things out in the opening period. What happened next, well, if you blinked you would have missed it.
With just under two minutes to go the game was still scoreless and that would change in a major way. First Carl Hagelin got the party started as he surged down ice, went around the net, got the puck in front and banked it off defenseman Adam Pardy’s skate past Ryan Miller. Hagelin’s 10th of the season put the Rangers on the board first and that was only the tip of a very large iceberg.
Less than a minute later, after the Rangers dumped the puck in, Brad Richards fired a pass that deflected off Christian Ehroff’s skate past Ryan Miller giving the Rangers a quick 2-0 lead, Richards 8th of the season. As the final seconds ticked down, fans were getting up, heading for the restrooms and to get their intermission snacks as the teams usually just let the clock run down, but a crucial mistake by the Sabres goaltender proved very costly. With six second to go, the Rangers dumped the puck in, Miller gathered it and completely whiffed on the pass, leaving the loose puck in front of the cage. Ryane Clowe charged towards the net, took the puck and backhanded it past a discombobulated Miller, stunning the Sabres. Clowe’s 3rd of the season completed the Rangers eruption of three goals in a span of 1:14, started with just a couple of minutes to go in the period. The Rangers scored the three goals so fast, the Sabres announced all of the goals at once as intermission began.
As if that rapid fast goal barrage wasn’t enough, the Rangers continued to pour it on right after the puck dropped to open the second period. Nice passing as the Rangers worked the puck around in the Sabres end, Rick Nash down low to Ryane Clowe, Clowe up ice to Anton Stralman atop the faceoff circle. Stralman’s wrister beat Ryan Miller shortside just 1:13 in the middle frame. Stralman’s 4th of the season gave the Rangers a 4-0 lead and chased Miller from the net. Miller was replaced by Jhonas Enroth, and barely had time to stretch before he felt the same wrath that Miller did, not thanks to his defenseman.
Twenty-seven seconds after Stralman’s goal, John Moore slap shot was initially stopped by Enroth and the puck squirted loose into the crease. Brad Richards reached out, got a piece of it and as defenseman Mark Pysyk tried to tied up Richards stick to prevent him from scoring, Pysyk ended up knocking the puck in with his stick. Richards 9th of the season, 2nd of the game, put the Rangers up 5-0. Between the end of the first period and the opening couple minutes of the second, the Rangers had erupted for five goals in a span of 2:58, and they still had plenty of more in the tank.
It wasn’t within a minute or two of the last goal, but with just over seven minutes gone by, Rick Nash led the rush into the Sabres zone. He played give and go with Derek Stepan who returned the puck to Nash at the left faceoff dot and he one-timed it past Enroth. Nash’s team leading 19th goal gave the Blueshirts monumental 6-0 lead. At this point, with a large lead, the question was would Henrik Lundqvist get a shutout and he did his best to keep the Sabres off the board.
With just over eleven minutes remaining, the Sabres worked the puck around, Cody Hodgson fed a pass down low to Thomas Vanek who sent it across to Tyler Ennis at the right doorstep. Ennis briefly had an open net, and as he tried to backhand the puck in, Henrik Lundqvist slid across, reached out with the arm and made a sprawling save as he fell on top of the puck as it rested on the goal line.
In most cases a six goal lead would make a team feel so comfortable, they’d feel like they were relaxing on a recliner with their feet up, holding a pina colada. But theme on this night was score goals in bunches, and after the Sabres scored twice in six seconds, Cody Hodgson and Nathan Gerbe with the goals, it looked as if one more goal might make the Rangers start to sweat. But Ryan Callahan put a quick end to the Sabres run.
Just twenty-four seconds later, Ryan Callahan stripped the puck from Mike Weber at the blue line, skated in on a breakaway and snapped it past Jhonas Enroth. Callahan’s 12th of the season gave the Rangers a 7-2, their highest goal total of the season. As was stated earlier, the theme on this night was goals being scored in bunches, and less than two minutes after Callahan’s goal, the Sabres made it a little interesting as Drew Stafford backhanded a shot past Henrik Lundqvist off a faceoff win, to cut the Rangers lead to 7-3.
Twelve and a half minutes had gone by in the third period and unless the Rangers all head for the locker room in the final seven plus minutes, it was pretty clear they were going to come away with two points on this night. But just for good measure, Brad Richards did something he had not done in his entire career which began in the 2000-01 season.
Ryan McDonagh intercepted a pass at center ice and sent in ahead for Richards who skated into the Sabres zone and let go a snap shot that deflected off Johnas Enroth’s glove and in. Richards 10th of the season completed his long awaited first career hat-trick in game #896. With some Rangers fans in attendance, a few hats made their way onto the ice.
In the final minute of the third, Sabres rookie Mark Pysyk has his moment in the sun despite the game being well in hand for the Rangers. Pysyk’s shot deflected off Steve Eminger for his first career goal. This wild night in Buffalo ended with the Rangers taking an 8-4 decision and two huge points to take sole possession of the eighth and final playoff spot in the East, two ahead of the Winnipeg Jets.
The Rangers return to action Sunday afternoon at Madison Square Garden to take on the New Jersey Devils. Puck drops at 3pm on NBC. The teams split two game at Newark with the Devils winning 3-1 on February 5th and the Rangers taking a 3-2 decision on March 19th.
News and Notes:
The Rangers eight goals was their most since an 8-2 win over the Edmonton Oilers on November 14th, 2010 at Madison Square Garden.
The Rangers set a franchise record for fasted five goals in a span of 2:58. They scored five goals in 3:22 in an 8-7 win over the Edmonton Oilers at Madison Square Garden on February 15th, 1985.
Filed Under: Rangers
Leave a Reply
You must be logged in to post a comment.