Panarin scores in OT, Rangers beat Sabres 2-1
BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — Artemi Panarin converted a blocked shot to score a power-play goal 2:02 into overtime and the New York Rangers beat the Buffalo Sabres 2-1 on Saturday night.
Patrick Kane scored his second goal in four games since being acquired by the Rangers in a trade with Chicago, and Igor Shesterkin overcame a near costly miscue to finish with 32 saves in one of his strongest outings in weeks. New York never led until the final score for a second straight outing, after rallying to beat Montreal 4-3 in a shootout on Thursday.
The Rangers maintained their hold on third place in the Metropolitan Division by winning for the fourth time in six games. New York continued its domination of its cross-state rival by improving to 10-0-1 in the past 11 meetings.
Jeff Skinner scored and Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen stopped 24 shots in a game the Sabres dominated much of the play by out-shooting the Rangers 27-16 over the final two periods of regulation and 33-26 overall.
Buffalo continued slipping out of the Eastern Conference playoff race in dropping to 1-5-1 in its past seven, but showed plenty of resolve in attempting to bounce back from a 10-4 drubbing to the Dallas Stars on Thursday.
Panarin’s goal came 50 seconds after Buffalo defenseman Rasmus Dahlin was penalized for hooking Mika Zibanejad.
Adam Fox set up the play when he drove into the high slot before having his shot blocked by the stick of Buffalo’s Zemgus Girgensons. With Luukkonen leaning to his left, the puck rolled the other way and directly to Panarin, who snapped it into the open side.
Skinner opened the scoring 7:52 into a second period, by one-timing in Ilya Lyubushkin’s hard pass into the right circle and beating Shesterkin on the short side.
Kane then tied it less than four minutes later on a fortunate bounce. Driving up the right wing, his feed into the middle hit the inside of defenseman Owen Power and caromed into the net. The goal sparked a small roar from a crowd that included a relatively large contingent Rangers fans, as well as many of Kane’s family and hometown friends.
The Sabres initially appeared to take the lead with 7:49 left in the second period on a strange turn of events, which led to the goal being waved off.
Shesterkin played the puck in the circle to his right, and instead of passing it to his closest teammate, the goalie elected to fire it up the ice. Buffalo’s Tyson Jost gloved the puck down just outside the Rangers blue line and fired it into the untended net, just before Shesterkin had time to scramble into position.
The goal, however, was immediately disallowed because Buffalo’s Victor Olofsson was offside as he was a step from the Sabres bench door while making a line change before Jost crossed the blue line.
UP AND DOWN BLUESHIRTS Rangers coach Gerard Gallant voiced the same theme when asked about his team’s various struggles.
On the so-called Kid Line’s production taking a dip, Gallant said: “Well, nobody’s been productive as they were. We had a great stretch for two months, and the last two weeks have been up and down. And I’m not faulting the Kid Line. I’m faulting the whole group.”
On Shesterkin, who entered the day 3-3 and allowed 20 goals in his past six starts, he said: “Our team hasn’t been as sharp as we could be. It’s not one guy.”
Rangers C Tyler Motte returned after missing two games with a upper body injury. ... D Ryan Lindgren, who resumed practicing on Friday, missed his sixth straight game with an upper body injury.
Rangers: Complete four-game road trip at Pittsburgh on Sunday.
Sabres: Open three-game road trip at Toronto on Monday night.
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John Wawrow, The Associated Press