BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — Victor Olofsson tied the game at 16:19 of the third period and Tage Thompson scored the only goal in a shootout to give the Buffalo Sabres a 3-2 comeback victory against the New York Rangers on Saturday night.
Thompson beat Rangers goalie Igor Shesterkin with a low snap shot in the second round of the tiebreaker. Buffalo goalie Linus Ullmark denied Artemi Panarin, Mika Zibanejad and Kaapo Kakko.
“I think he’s probably one of the best goalies in the world,” Olofsson said about Ullmark. “He’s so patient. … It’s really hard to figure him out. We feel really confident with him on the penalty shots, for sure.”
Casey Mittelstadt also scored for the Sabres, and Ullmark made 28 saves in improving to 7-5-3 this season. Buffalo extended its point streak to four games and is 2-0-1 beginning with a victory over Philadelphia that snapped the club’s 0-15-3 skid.
The latest victory came in the Sabres’ first home game with fans in the stands this year.
“I think during the game sometimes you tune them out, but it’s been so long that even with that little amount you can hear them,” Mittelstadt said. “I think especially after the game on a good comeback win, you take a look up and see people. Obviously we miss them and I’ve heard this rink be really, really loud a few times so we definitely miss them.”
Buffalo was nearly down 3-1 through two periods after Rangers defenseman Jacob Trouba fired a shot past Ullmark at the end of the second, but video review confirmed the puck crossed the goal line after time expired. For what was once a fragile team under Ralph Krueger, the Sabres have shown more nerve recently under interim coach Don Granato.
“I wasn’t concerned about our guys psychologically at all. I was concerned about the score and being down to the degree that you can be concerned about that,” Granato said. “But I felt our guys were executing what they should be executing. They were immersed in the moment. They weren’t riding the emotions that you could ride with what transpired through two periods. They really knew they were playing well and they knew they could elevate. So, all I mentioned to them was, ‘You’ve got another level, you know it, and let’s find it and let’s enjoy it. Let’s embrace this. This is fun.’”
Panarin scored both New York goals, giving him 11 on the season, and Shesterkin finished with 27 saves. The Rangers remained tied for fifth place in the East with the Flyers, four points behind Boston for the division’s final playoff spot.
“I just think we didn’t force enough turnovers,” Rangers coach David Quinn said. “I didn’t think we were on top of them the way we need to be. I thought our breakouts really hurt us. I don’t think we came out of our zone clean at all, so that’s something we’re going to have to adjust moving forward.”
New York defenseman Adam Fox assisted on both of Panarin’s goals and extended his point streak to 10 games.
“I thought at the beginning of the year the points weren’t really coming but I was playing well,” Fox said. “Now they come — and sometimes in bunches — and that’s kind of what’s happening.”
Olofsson tied it with a pinpoint shot from the high slot that beat Shesterkin to his glove side.
It was Thompson who scored the tying goal with 4 seconds left in regulation Thursday night before the Sabres lost to the Rangers 3-2 in overtime.
Panarin upped his total to 131 points in 95 games with the Rangers, passing Mike Rogers for third-most in a player’s first 100 games with the franchise. Panarin is two behind Jaromir Jagr for second place and six back of Mark Messier.
Rangers: New winger Vitali Kravtsov was recalled from the taxi squad and made his NHL debut. The 2018 first-round draft pick (ninth overall) had been with Traktor Chelyabinsk of the Kontinental Hockey League in Russia. “I thought he played well. I thought he was engaged, I thought he played with pace,” Quinn said.
Sabres: F C.J. Smith and D Brandon Davidson were reassigned from Rochester of the AHL to the taxi squad.
Rangers: Open a two-game homestand against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Tuesday night.
Sabres: At the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday night in the first part of a home-and-home set.
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