BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — Buffalo captain Jack Eichel’s first goal of the season gave him some relief and provided a lift for the Sabres.
Eichel, Dylan Cozens and Tobias Rieder scored for Buffalo, which rallied for a 3-2 win over the New York Rangers on Tuesday night.
“You have a little bit of a drought and it feels like you deserved a few goals and maybe some better fate,” Eichel said. “I think I had a few more chances in the game and you just want to try and capitalize on your opportunities. … It’s been a year; it’s been a long year for a lot of people in terms of preparing for the season. It feels like we’re still getting our feet wet.”
Chris Kreider and K’Andre Miller scored first-period goals for the Rangers.
“A loss is a loss is a loss,” Kreider said. “Doesn’t matter if you’re close and doing the right things, it doesn’t matter if maybe the other team is tilting the ice a little bit. It’s about finding ways to win. It’s (four losses) in a row now. We’ve got to hate losing in that room and we’ve got to nip it in the bud right now, and we’ve got to come out and play a no-doubter next game against Buffalo.”
Eichel’s power-play goal snapped a 2-all tie and gave Buffalo the lead at 7:31 of the second period. He buried a shot from the slot off a pass from below the goal line by Victor Olofsson. Eichel raised both his arms and his head to the sky before pounding the glass in celebration. The goal was his first since March 9, 2020, Buffalo’s final game of the 2019-2020 season.
“Very important step for Jack — and for us — to get rid of that egg and he’s got one now and there’s many more to come now I’m sure,” Sabres coach Ralph Krueger said.
Buffalo’s win came after the Sabres faced a 2-1 deficit after the first period.
Kreider gave New York a 1-0 lead 6:48 into the game with a shot past Sabres goalie Linus Ullmark off a pass from Pavel Buchnevich. Buchnevich took advantage of a turnover by defenseman Colin Miller.
Cozens’ power-play goal at 12:50 of the second tied it. His slot shot whistled off the post and past Rangers goalie Alexandar Georgiev, who finished with 22 saves.
Miller gave New York a 2-1 lead with seven seconds left the first period when he ripped a slap shot past Ullmark. Miller, playing in his sixth career game, spent his previous two seasons at the University of Wisconsin.
Rieder’s second goal of the season at 6:03 of the second period came two seconds after the Sabres killed off a minor for too many men on the ice. Rieder received a pass from defenseman Matt Irwin and streaked up the right wing before he crossed in front of a fully extended Georgiev and beat him to the far post. Irwin’s assist came in his first game with the Sabres after he signed as a free agent in the offseason.
“We get the goal at the end of the first, which is huge, we’re up 2-1, then we give up (the goal to Rieder) and boy did our bench get demoralized,” Rangers coach David Quinn said. “You could just feel it. There wasn’t any life to our bench. We were lucky to get out of that period only down by one.”
After Eichel made it 3-2, the Sabres hunkered down in the third as the Rangers built a 15-2 edge in shots and spent the final 1:37 killing a 6-on-4 Rangers power play with Georgiev pulled for an extra skater following a boarding minor against forward Taylor Hall. Ullmark finished with 28 saves.
“Coming down the stretch and the details of the faceoffs, the penalty kill… all of those things were the difference with Linus backing us up in a really strong performance down the stretch,” Krueger said. “I’m extremely pleased with the way we grounded the game out… (We) found a way to win the game through character and perseverance.”
The Rangers and Sabres faced each other as divisional opponents for the first time since March 24, 1974, when both were part of the East Division.
Rangers 21-year-old forward Filip Chytil will miss the next 4 to 6 weeks with an upper-body injury. Chytil, in his fourth season with New York, sustained the injury in a collision with Pittsburgh Penguins forward Evan Rodrigues. Chytil has two goals this season, tying him for the Rangers’ lead with four others (Kreider, Buchnevich, Artemi Panarin, and Kaapo Kakko).
Sabres defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen played in his 500th game, all with Buffalo.
The Sabres recalled forward Dylan Cozens and returned forward Casey Mittelstadt to the taxi squad ahead of Tuesday’s game. Buffalo sent goalie Jonas Johansson to the taxi squad on Monday. Carter Hutton backed up Linus Ullmark after missing the last two games following a collision with Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Ivan Provorov on Jan. 20.
The teams meet again in Buffalo on Thursday night.
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