New York, NY – Artem Anisimov netted two goals including the game-winning goal in overtime to lead the New York Rangers (8-7-1) to a 3-2 victory in overtime against the Buffalo Sabres (5-9-3) in hockey action on Thursday night. Anisimov who was backed by an outstanding goalkeeping performance by back-up Martin Biron; who earned his second win of the season and the first win on Madison Square Garden ice in the team’s victory over the Sabres.
“It is a big win,” Anisimov said after the game. “The last two games we played hard and we deserved to win.” He would continue by saying, “Winning at home is important right now and we have more confidence right now.”
The Rangers were able to get on the board early as at the 14:04 mark Ruslan Fedotenko (2) was able to tip-in the game opener with the assist from Michael Sauer (2) and Brandon Prust (3). As New York was continuing to play with an aggressive forecheck, blocking shots (12) and hard hits (34).
Earlier on in the first period play New York fans saw the return of sniper Marian Gaborik after having to sit out 12 games with a separated shoulder. Gaborik looked strong all night long for the Rangers skating 18:40 minutes of total ice time, while taking three shots. Even though Gaborik was not able to get on the score sheet he was still able to leave his mark on the ice.
“It is the talent level he rings. You saw his first couple of shifts. On the power play he had a couple of great chances. He is dynamic and he is going to make other players better. It was a good first night for him,” said head coach John Tortorella on Gaborik’s return.
“I feel pretty good for the first game back,” Gaborik himself had to say tonight. “I haven’t played for three weeks, but I feel pretty good. The first game is always the tough one, but I felt better than I expected.”
Buffalo was able to score their first goal of the game tying the two teams up at the 15:33 mark of the second period. Tyler Ennis (4) was able to tip-in a puck that was set up by Derek Roy (10) and Thomas Vanek (5). It was a rough goal for New York as keeper Martin Biron was on his back and though he had the puck stopped, everyone including the 17,848 in attendance was waiting for the whistle to be blown to call a stop to the play. Instead Buffalo kept shooting away thus netting their first goal.
Biron performed well for a team that discovered last minute that Henrik Lundqvist was ill, enjoyed this win against his former teammates.
“I don’t know if it helps or not. To play against Buffalo is always exciting to me. I get up for them. I have friends and family watching back at home. It is definitely a lot of fun,” Biron said of playing against his old team.
Anisimov (5) then netted his first goal of the game on a wicket snap shot at the 19:12 mark of the second period, was set up on a backhanded pass by Brandon Dubinsky (5) as well as Ryan Callahan (10). But then in the winding seconds of the second Buffalo was able to respond again at the 19:57 mark as Michael Grier (2) netted a backhanded goal, which was assisted by Rob Niedermayer (4) and Cody McCormick (2).
Early in the third period of play New York came so close to netting the game winner as with 15:14 on the scoreboard, Fedotenko thought he was able to cash in on a goal that was called it off by officials who said that the play was dead before the puck went into the net. The fans in attendance again voiced their displeasure as this was the third goal this week that Fedotenko thought that he had scored, but was called off by officials.
“We have been playing well and in the last game we had a chance to win the game and we didn‘t,” Fedotenko said after the game. “Hopefully now we will do extra and score points.”
Thankfully for those in attendance huge saves by Biron eventually led the Rangers into the overtime period where Anisimov let off a wicked snap shot at the 1:32 mark, which was assisted by Fedotenko (5) and Dan Girardi (7) for a thrilling overtime finished.
“I tried to get Feds (Ruslan Fedotenko) pass, it dropped into the net and I made a play,” said Anisimov of the game-winner. “After the battle I saw the puck and shot it, top shelf.”
“It wasn’t a pretty game to watch but it was a tight game,” Marian Gaborik had to say of the win. “We got two points and that’s the most important thing.”
Biron who finished the night with 29 saves made some stellar stops along the night for New York. Stopping many nice shots that Buffalo threw at him including some wicked wrist shots, back hander’s and wrap around opportunities. On the other end of the ice keeper Jhonas Enroth made 25 saves in a solid effort for the Sabres.
“I mentioned before the Atlanta game that I didn’t have the best practices I wanted. The practices now have been good. When you don’t get in on a consistent basis, the practices become games. When you get on the ice, it has to be 100% focus. It was fun to be loose and go into the game feeling that way,” Biron said after the game.
Head coach John Tortorella was very impressed with Biron saying, “He gets kind of thrown in. He was at the pre-game skate this morning. I don’t think he even had a day to prepare for the game. We found out about Henrik Lundqvist this evening. He made some big saves. That is what I like about him, he made some key saves.” Coach Tortorella would continue by saying, “We don’t get into overtime without some of his saves. That is good news for us, not just for tonight but for our future.”
New York will now look to keep the winning vibe going as they will host the Edmonton Oilers for a Sunday evening 12:30 face-off.