NEW YORK – It is not what John Tortorella wanted and in the end, he’s getting more and more of the same results. The Rangers are playing well, but a just coming up short.
And tonight’s 3-2 loss to the Buffalo Sabres, is even a harder pill to swallow, because it cuts the Rangers lead with the Sabres to three points, and Buffalo has three games in hand,
“It’s a tough one,” said goalie Henrik Lundqvist, who stopped 23 shots on the night. “It’s a big game for both teams. We just have to keep battling. We have to stay positive. We did a lot of good things. We have to just be a little sharper in all parts of the game starting with me. (But) we are still in a position to control our situation.”
The Rangers had a golden opportunity to create room between their 70 points and now the 67 held by ninth place Buffalo, yet, the Ranger defense played to up, allowing the Sabres to get hind the Ranger defense.
“All three goals, our defensemen were too far behind us, and they were able to get too close to the net,” Tortorella said. “One power play goal hits [Dan Girardi] ’s stick and goes in. The second power play goal, our defense had to turn and get to their guys. We let them in behind us. The third goal we have a breakdown at the point and our D leaves the front of the net too.”
Having a young defense does that and part of the reason why Bryan McCabe was acquired on Saturday. The Rangers are trying to win with talent, but inexperience on the blue line, which makes it tough even for a veteran goalie like Lundqvist.
And that was the story of the game, as Tyler Myers, Brad Boyes, and Jochen Hecht bested Lundqvist while Ryan Miller (29 saves) was superb in net for Buffalo.
“It was good for us,” Miller said. “I thought we came out strong in the first period and established ourselves well. The penalties are what got them going in the second period. It’s something we got to watch out for but battled through a 4-on-3. It might have been a difference for us.”
The Rangers, though, had their chances with Eric Christensen cutting a two goal lead in half at 13:45 of the second on the power play and Artem Anisimov brought the Rangers back at 6:05 of the third. Yet, it wasn’t enough.
They did have some chances, especially Matts Zuccarello late in the game, but Miller was fantastic in net.
“I wish I could get a couple of those goals, but he’s a good goalie,” Zuccarello said. “The first one was just lying there and I couldn’t see it. The second was a good save.”
And that’s what made it such a tough loss.
Notes: This marks the first game Henrik Lundqvist is working without a net, as Martin Biron is out with a broken collarbone. “I try to just focus on this game today,” he said. “When I left the rink yesterday, I ran into Marty and he said it was broken and he will be out for a while. We have to deal with it. It will change my role a little bit and I want to stay fresh and help the team. I will deal with it.”