National Hockey League
- Madison Square Garden PUCK DROP -
Buffalo Sabres
ML: BUF +186
NY Rangers Rangers
ML: NYR -208
Goalie Performance
#31 G Chad Johnson
Antti Raanta
#32 G Antti Raanta
0.917 SV% 33 SV
0.933 SV% 14 SV
Scoring Leaders
Ryan O'Reilly
#90 C Ryan O'Reilly Goals Assists 2 0
Matt Moulson
#26 LW Matt Moulson Goals Assists 1 0
Zemgus Girgensons
#28 C Zemgus Girgensons Goals Assists 1 0
Kevin Hayes
#13 RW Kevin Hayes Goals Assists 1 0
J.T. Miller
#10 C J.T. Miller Goals Assists 1 0
Derek Stepan
#21 C Derek Stepan Goals Assists 1 0

NEW YORK -- If you believe the New York Rangers, at no point during an 82-game schedule will an NHL team find an easy victory.

That's what players usually say after they are handled by a club far below them in the standings.

It wasn't a coincidence that was the sentiment in the Rangers' locker room following their 4-3 loss to the also-ran Buffalo Sabres at Madison Square Garden on Saturday.

The Rangers fell behind 3-0 in under 21 minutes, put forth a valiant effort in the third period but came up extremely short with a chance to clinch a playoff spot.

"There are no easy games in this league," said Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, who was yanked early in the second period after allowing three goals on nine shots, including two to Sabres center Ryan O'Reilly.

"Every team wants to win for different reasons this time of year. Everybody is going to work hard. It's not going to come for free."

Rangers right winger Mats Zuccarello, who was on the ice for nearly the entirety of a two-minute 5-on-3 power play late in the third period that could have tied the game, said: "It wasn't a terrible game and they got some lucky goals. That's hockey. Sometimes the puck bounces your way, sometimes it doesn't."

There was nothing lucky about the Sabres' victory; they capitalized on a slew of gaffes from a sloppy Rangers' team that has lost three straight.

O'Reilly's first goal was off a mistake by Lundqvist, who guided a soft shot from Sabres defenseman Zach Bogosian into the slot, thinking Rangers defenseman Kevin Klein could accept the pseudo-pass.

The miscommunication allowed O'Reilly to gather in the loose puck and fire it past Lundqvist stick side to make it 1-0.

O'Reilly made it 2-0 on a beautiful setup by right winger Jack Eichel, who torched Klein in the neutral zone to create a 2-on-1 that ended with him feeding O'Reilly at the right post for his 20th of the season.

After being booed off the ice, the Rangers fell behind 3-0 at 0:46 of the second period when Lundqvist kicked out the rebound of a shot by center Zemgus Girgensons, who buried his second chance to end the goaltender's night.

Center Kevin Hayes cut the lead to 3-1 less than three minutes after Antti Raanta replaced Lundqvist, but it was yet another Rangers mistake that allowed the Sabres (33-35-11) to score again.

Raanta gloved a puck and attempted to drop it for defenseman Keith Yandle. But the exchange was sloppy and allowed Sabres center Cal O’Reilly to chase Yandle behind the net and force a turnover.

The puck squirted to left winger Matt Moulson, who much like Girgensons, could not score on his first shot but the found the back of the net on a second try.

The Rangers made a strong third-period push, outshooting the Sabres 16-5 over the final 20 minutes, but they dug themselves too deep a hole.

"We are trying to be spoilers," said Sabres goaltender Chad Johnson, who stopped 33 shots against his former team. "We are just trying to play our game. We had a tough start (to the season) and we are just really getting it now."

Added Ryan O'Reilly: "I think we knew what to do. We knew what to do."

The Rangers (43-26-9) look destined to either finish third in the Metro or settle into a wild-card spot. They are three points behind the second-place Pittsburgh Penguins and two points ahead of the New York Islanders, who hold the first wild-card spot and a game in hand on the Rangers.

But if the Rangers believe what they said, that a team that lost hope of a playoff spot months ago is a difficult task for them, playoff positioning won't matter much.

If they play the Penguins or a division champion in the first round, imagine how much more difficult they will find that.

"We know down the stretch, teams are trying to finish on a high note," Rangers captain Ryan McDonagh said. "It doesn't matter where you are. We still need to get done what we're trying to get done."

NOTES: Sabres LW Tyler Ennis, out since late-December because of a concussion, did not make the trip to Manhattan but coach Dan Bylsma hopes to have him back for the final week of the season. ... Bylsma also said Sabres D Cody Franson (concussion) won't play again this season. ... Rangers RW Mats Zuccarello played in his 300th NHL game. ... Rangers LW Oscar Lindberg was a healthy scratch for the ninth straight game. ... Rangers D Dylan McIlrath hasn't played since March 6. He dealt with a knee injury but is now a healthy scratch.
Top Game Performances
Buffalo   NY Rangers
Ryan O'Reilly 2 Points Kevin Hayes 1
Ryan O'Reilly 2 Goals Kevin Hayes 1
Zach Bogosian 1 Assists Derick Brassard 1
N/A Power Play Goals N/A
N/A Short Handed Goals N/A
Chad Johnson .917 Save Percentage Antti Raanta .933
Chad Johnson 33 Saves Antti Raanta 14
Team Stats Summary
Team Shots Goals Power Play Penalty Kill Penalty Mins Face Offs Won
Buffalo 24 4 0-2 3-3 6 31
NY Rangers 36 3 0-3 2-2 4 29
Upcoming Games
  • NY Rangers will play their next game on the road against Columbus. The Rangers have a W/L % of .500 after a win and .618 after a loss.
  • Buffalo will play their next game on the road against New Jersey. The Sabres have a W/L % of .344 after a win and .468 after a loss.