Three first period goals for the New York Rangers helped pace the team to a 6-2 win over the Buffalo Sabres on Thursday night at Madison Square Garden in New York City.
The Sabres got two second period goals from defenseman Marco Scandella and forward Vladimir Sobotka, but Buffalo ended up shooting themselves with some sloppy play and mistakes that resulted in goals for the Rangers.
Buffalo was whistled for the first penalty of the game less than two minutes into the contest as the Sabres were caught with too many men on the ice. The team did not allow a shot on goal during the penalty kill, with New York's closest chance coming on a scoring chance that was re-directed by Sabres defenseman Jake McCabe over the glass and out of play.
The Rangers struck first with Artemi Panarin's fifth goal of the season after picking up the puck just inside the Sabres' blue line and beating goalie Carter Hutton. After Sabres defenseman Rasmus Dahlin lost control of the puck in the neutral zone, Panarin picked it up and waited out Hutton's poke check, then slid the puck into a wide-open net.
New York added to their lead over five minutes later after they wer eable to collect a loose puck and convert on a rebound chance. Brett Howden was on the receiving end of a puck that was kept in the Sabres' zone and sent to the front of the net. Howden scored on his second chance after nearly missing the first time, making it 2-0.
Buffalo's first power play chance of the night came courtesy of a Chris Kreider hooking minor, but the Sabres failed to score on the first of three overall chances on the night.
Just before the end of the first period, the Rangers added to their lead with a re-direction goal off the stick of Ryan Strome. With 38-seconds remaining in the period, defenseman Brady Skjei took a shot from the point that Strome was able to get a piece of for his first goal of the season.
After the first goal of the game, the Rangers went on to control the majority of the first period, and out-shot the Sabres through the opening 20 minutes, 10-7.
Shortly after a missed chance to convert on an odd-man rush early in the second period, the Sabres got on the scoreboard thanks to traffic around the Rangers net. It was Scandella who was able to steal a Rangers' clearing attempt, and then fired a wrist shot past goalie Henrik Lundqvist to cut the deficit to 3-1.
New York re-gained its three-goal lead later in the second after defenseman Tony DeAngelo'snuck in from the point to fire a shot past Hutton for his fourth goal of the year.
Sobotka gave the Sabres some life before the end of the period as he was able to score thanks to a bounce that went the blue and gold's way. A Rangers defenseman tried to block Sobotka's shot, but instead changed the direction of the shot that bounced its way through Lundqvist and into the back of the goal.
Buffalo had a much better period, out-shooting the Rangers by a 15-4 total. However, the Sabres still trailed 4-2 and needed a spark early to get themselves back in the contest.
Jeff Skinner did not provide that spark early in the third period as he was whistled for tripping just over a minute in. Buffalo killed off the penalty, but he ended up being penalized for high sticking and unsportsmanlike conduct on his very next shift.
The Rangers were able to breathe a bit easier at the 7:57 mark of the period as Strome cashed in on his second goal of the game to make it 5-2. After a giveaway by Sabres forward Jack Eichel in the offensive zone, Strome and Howden quickly turned the other way on a 2-on-1, which was capped off by Howden feeding Strome for a wide-open scoring chance.
The scoring ended late in the third period as a bounce off of Zemgus Girgensons in front of the Sabres' net went to make it a 6-2 Rangers lead. Chris Kreider was credited with the goal after his original shot ended up being stopped by Hutton, followed by the rebound going off Girgensons in front.
The Sabres will finish up their quick two-game road trip on Friday night against the Detroit Red Wings at Little Caesars Arena. The puck drops at 7:30 p.m. on WGR with the Paul William Beltz Pre-Game Show starting at 6:30 p.m. with Mike Schopp and the Bulldog.