Ryan Callahan’s shorthanded goal late in the second period proved to be the game winner as the New York Rangers dumped the Buffalo Sabres 4-1 at First Niagara Center on Saturday. Carl Hagelin had a pair of goals for the Rangers, and former Sabre Martin Biron stopped 32 shots to earn the victory. Thomas Vanek’s 14th goal of the year was Buffalo’s only tally of the night.
The Rangers had a pair of shorthanded goals in the game, but it was Callahan’s that was the backbreaker. With Brandon Dubinsky in the box for boarding and the score tied 1-1, Callahan picked up the puck at the Rangers blueline and raced into the Buffalo zone. While Christian Ehrhoff was able to close the gap on him in front, Callahan held on to the puck, spun to his left and slid the puck through Jhonas Enroth’s legs.
“I was expecting the shot, but it sneaked through my legs anyway,” Enroth said. “I don’t know what to say. That’s a puck I need to save.”
Allowing two shorthanded goals is never a good thing, and something Vanek says could’ve been prevented.
“When we get in trouble is when we hold on to it and look for the pretty plays instead of making the quick plays, getting pucks to the net and taking charge. I think that’s what happened tonight.”
Enroth, who is now 1-5-1 in his last seven decisions, accepted some of the blame for the loss.
“Of course we need to score a couple more goals. But I think I should’ve given up one goal tonight. It’s three goals I needed to save tonight, so it’s pretty bad.”
LISTEN TO LINDY RUFF'S POST-GAME PRESS CONFERENCE
Shots were even at 33-33 in the game, but the Sabres also had 13 missed shots and 20 more that were blocked. Lindy Ruff felt his team deserved a better fate.
“We kept missing. We had some good chances, even in the third. Ennis, Roy, Kassian, Vanek had a couple of great ones. It’s like I said, we probably had more chances in the first period than we had in the whole last game. I thought the guys were locked in to working and playing. I thought we made some great plays in the offensive zone.”
NOTES: Colin Stuart was recalled from Rochester today, and skated 9:11 of ice time … Jochen Hecht (lower body), Nathan Gerbe (head) and Corey Tropp (head) were all scratched for Buffalo … Paul Gaustad (upper body) missed his third game, and was placed on Injured Reserve earlier today.
6:45 - Good evening (again) from the First Niagara Center in chilly Buffalo, NY!
6:46 - I'm convinced it's colder inside the FNC than it is outside -- and the thermostat in my car read 24 degrees when I drove downtown this afternoon. I'm having a tough time typing with mittens on.
6:51 - Gerbe, Hecht & Tropp scratched for Buffalo tonight. Gaustad has been placed on IR. Colin Stuart has been recalled from Rochester.
6:51 - Enroth starts in goal for the Sabres ... Marty Biron for the Rangers
6:53 - Michael Sauer is the only Rangers scratch right now. He was the one who got rocked by Toronto's Dion Phaneuf earlier this week.
6:54 - BUF starters: Roy-Stafford-Ennis; Regehr-Sekera
6:54 - NYR starters: Richards-Callahan-Fedotenko; Girardi-McDonagh
6:55 - Erik Christensen has been added to the Rangers scratches.
7:01 - The lights have dimmed, soft music is playing ... NOT! Time to get ready for some Sabres hockey.
7:01 - As always, for those about to blog ... I salute you!
7:02 - Rangers hit the ice wearing their classic white jerseys with the blue piping on the shoulders, and red pants
7:03 - Jhonas Enroth leads the Sabres out to the ice. They are sporting their dark blue home jerseys with the yellow stripes on the waist
7:08 - Game on!
7:09 - Well that took exactly 9 seconds. Regehr jams his stick into Callahan's mouth, earning himself a 2 min minor.
7:13 - Luke Adam just misses the tap in at the side of the net on a sweet pass from Kassian.
7:15 - Szczechura skating on the top line tonight with Vanek and Pominville
7:16 - Then again, if these injuries keep up my 9-yr-old daughter may be able to work her way into a second-line role before the season is over.
7:18 - 13:56 left in the 1st. Sabres have only managed 1 shot to New York's 8
7:27 - Stafford cuts into the middle and fires a shot at Biron's pads. He's due to go on a roll any day now
7:28 - Vanek races in for the loose puck but his slap shot goes way wide from an awkward angle
7:31 - Kassian is an absolute beast down low. He just fought off 2 Rangers to keep the puck in the offensive zone.
7:35 - I just remembered that Brad Richards plays for the Rangers now.
7:36 - Hagelin called for interference - Sabres on the PP at 16:18
7:37 - So much for that PP. Vanek sets a pick on McDonagh in the corner as Stafford cuts around him. That's better known as interference. Time for some 4-on-4 hockey
7:38 - Biron slides across and easily stops Ennis' quick wrister from the left side.
7:40 - Vanek gets another chance in tight but again fires wide. You can see the frustration starting to set in for #26. That's the second time this period he's slammed his stick after a missed shot.
7:41 - End of 1: Scoreless in Buffalo. Rangers have a 15-9 lead in shots.
7:48 - Sabres credited with 10 hits in the 1st - Rangers had 8. Robyn Regehr led both teams with 3
7:59 - Game on for period 2!
8:04 - Dan Girardi has already played over 11 minutes on just 12 shifts. Dude must have some sick endurance
8:05 - I honestly can't get a read on either goalie tonight. Neither has really been tested.
8:05 - I have a funny feeling this game will be decided by bad bounces
8:14 - Ryan Callahan called for cross checking Leopold. Before he heads to the box, the two exchange Christmas greetings just inside the blueline
8:16 - Biron gloves a shot that Vanek fires from one knee in the slot.
8:16 - Stafford did some damage to Ryan McDonagh with a slapshot earlier on that sequence.
8:17 - 1-0: Carl Hagelin races in from the left side and goes top shelf glove side past Enroth. So much for my bad bounce theory.
8:18 - GOAL!
8:19 - 1-1: Vanek says enough of this missing the net crap. He winds up and unloads a blast that Biron can't get enough of.
8:19 - Pominville with the lone assist at 12:38
8:20 - 5:59 left in the 2nd.
8:26 - Even with the problems he's had tonight, I like the edge that Vanek is playing with.
8:33 - 2-1: Callahan with a nifty solo effort on Enroth's doorstep, spinning and jamming a shot between his pads.
8:35 - After 2: The Rangers lead 2-1. They continue to outshoot Buffalo 24-21
8:52 - Game on!
8:54 - Rangers use their timeout early after the icing play to get their guys a break
8:58 - 3-1: Hagelin with his second of the night, from almost the identical spot from his first one -- left side faceoff dot. Enroth appeared to misplay that one.
9:00 - Del Zotto and Biron pick up the helpers at 3:02. That's Biron's first assist of the season.
9:03 - Biron stops the Ennis blast from the slot, and then turns away Stafford on the rebound
9:05 - Anisimov goes down after being driven into the end board (cleanly) by Regehr. His head appeared to bounce off the glass
9:07 - Kassian finds the iron with a shot from the high slot
9:09 - Now he heads off to serve 2 mins for holding
9:12 - 9:01 left in the 3rd. Sabres lead 7-4 in shots this period, but still trail by 2
9:19 - We're down to 4:48 left in regulation
9:22 - Roy goes off for interference at 15:35 - Rangers to the PP
9:25 - 4-1: Gaborik beats Enroth glove side with a rocket from the top of the faceoff circle.
9:27 - FINAL: Rangers win 4-1