It was like that action thriller where the hero saves the day, just in the nick of time.
Defenseman Ryan Lindgren was the hero and he saved the day by scoring the winning goal with four-tenths of a second left in regulation, to give the Rangers a thrilling 5-4 win in a very entertaining game at Madison Square Garden last night.
The Rangers have won five straight at home, five of their last six overall and are 11-4-3. Next up, a first time visit to the UBS Arena and the first clash of the season with the Islanders.
With a little over two seconds left, the puck came loose at the bottom of the right face off circle. Adam Fox played it to Mika Zibanejad in the face off circle and he passed it to Lindgren who buried the game winner as Sabres’ goaltender Aaron Dell could not cover the open net.
It was the fourth time in franchise history that the Rangers scored a game winning goal with less than a second left. The last time was ten years ago when Brad Richards beat Arizona with one-tenth of a second left on the clock.
You kinda realize, with five seconds left, it’s probably not gonna be enough time for them to bring it all the way down so you just keep sneaking in,” Lindgren said. “Puck got to Fox, who kicked it out to Mika. Obviously, a great play by him.”
Lindgren also became the fourth defenseman in NHL history to score a go ahead goal in the final second of regulation. Gallant said Lindgren is the kind of player that teammates want to see do well. “When he gets a chance to score a big goal like that, it’s great for our team.”
Igor Shesterkin replaced Alexandar Georgiev (4 goals on 18 shots) to start the third period and got the win but didn’t see much action as he only had to make four saves. As to why he made the move, coach Gerard Gallant gave the default answer. “Coach’s decision,” he said.
The Rangers out shot Buffalo in the third period, 13-4 and 36-22 for the game.
The game featured a wild second period where six goals were scored. Four of those were scored within a 1:22 second span.
Sabres took a 1-0 lead at 15:53 of the first period. Rasmus Asplund scored on the power play but Chris Kreider continued his hot start by scoring his 13th goal on the power play to tie the game with :23 seconds left in the period.
Buffalo’s Vinnie Hinostroza picked the pocket of defenseman Jarred Tinordi (who had a rough game) in the Ranger zone and beat Alexandar Georgiev to give the Sabres a 2-1 lead at 2:26 of the second. Jacob Trouba, who played another strong game, scored his second of the season to tie it at 8:03.
The wild flurry began at 12:07 when Kappo Kakko scored his third goal of the season to tie the game at two. (Kakko extended his point scoring streak to four straight games)
:50 seconds later at 12:57, Sabres right wing Tage Thompson blistered a shot past Georgiev to tie the game at three. Fifteen seconds later, Rasmus Dahlin scored to give the Sabres a 4-3 lead, but 17 seconds after that, K’Andre Miller’s shot from the point beat the Buffalo goalie for the young defenseman’s second of the season. That completed the goal scoring barrage and tied the game at four after two.
It was a good night overall for the Rangers’ defense corp. The nine blue liners produced three goals and two assists from Fox, who leads all NHL defensemen with 18 points. Trouba liked the production but would’ve liked a better defensive effort overall. “We had some good offensive chances, also gave up more chances than we would’ve liked. At the end of the day, we found a way to win the game,” he said.
Artemi Panarin had three assists and was the number one star of the game. The 30-year old has 14 points in November and 22 (4 goals, 18 assists) for the season.
Panarin credits his recent success to a minor change he made in his game. “Earlier in the season, I was focused more on passing and now I’ve started to focus a little bit more on shooting,” he said through a translator after the game. “Now that I’ve done that, it’s opening up more space for my teammates, so I’m finding them a little bit more.”
Filip Chytil had an assist and the coach inferred that he played much better than his stat sheet. “Chytil had a couple of great chances tonight, obviously driving the net,” Gallant said.
Ryan Reaves earned his first point as a Ranger as he assisted on Miller’s goal. Reaves continued his solid play on the fourth line and was credited with 7 hits.
After the game was over, Gallant and Zibanejad appeared to be having a heated discussion. Gallant said Zibanejad was yelling at the ref after it appeared he was tripped just before the winning goal was scored. “He thought there should’ve been a penalty,” Gallant said. I told him, “Leave the referee alone.”