Found February 26, 2012 on Blue Seat Blogs:

Tonight’s recap comes from loyal reader Glen Miller. Glen also is the advanced stats writer on snyrangersblog and a regular contributor for Ranger Nation. His twitter handle is @gkmkiller. Get some…

Well don’t expect the cries from Rangers fans to acquire more offensive firepower (i.e. Rick Nash), which have built up to a raging crescendo in the last few days, to subside much despite the Rangers 3 – 2 OT win over Buffalo Saturday night. Those bemoaning the team’s lack of offense probably won’t be satisfied with the win and will point to the several missed scoring opportunities as justification for the club to pull the trigger on the rumored deal to add the deadline’s biggest name. Whether or not the team’s front office feels the same way remains to be seen.

The Blueshirts controlled play for much of the game, particularly in the first period, but still trailed the Sabres after one, 1 – 0. New York outshot the visitors 14 – 6 in the first period, but Sabres goalie Ryan Miller was equal to the task and denied the Rangers the game’s first goal.

Instead Buffalo capitalized on the second of two glaring 1st period defensive miscues, both of which led to odd-man rushes against to pot the contest’s opening tally.

Buffalo D Andrej Sekera attempted to clear the puck out of the Rangers offensive zone after a partially fanned on shot by Marc Staal. Staal tried to glove the puck down to keep it in the zone and was able to tip but not stop it while Sabres F Tyler Ennis raced after the loose biscuit. Staal tried admirably to keep Ennis away from the puck but after he swept the puck behind the goal line the young Sabre was able to center the disc to a wide-open Drew Stafford in front of Hank. Stafford would cash in on a one-timer for the first of what would be two goals for the big winger.

The real culprits on the play weren’t Staal or Hank; instead it was Michael Del Zotto and Derek Stepan. Del Zotto rushed in deep anticipating a pass or rebound from the Staal shot. Stepan moved to cover Del Zotto’s spot, but instead got caught up trying to play the puck in the offensive zone. This led to the two-on-one. Del Zotto, with Stepan, tried to get back defensively, but it appeared he slowed up and didn’t skate as hard as he could/should have and neither player was able to tie up Stafford.

Rookie wing Carl Hagelin would draw the Rangers even at the 7:38 mark of period two beating Miller on a wraparound for his 10th goal of his inaugural NHL campaign.

Stafford would put the Sabres up a goal in the third on the power play. It was just the 12th of the season for Stafford.

Del Zotto atoned for his earlier lackluster play by making a beautiful feed breaking Marian Gaborik for the Slovakian sniper’s 29th goal of the season. As the third-year blue liner entered the offensive zone he saw a streaking Gaborik out in front of Patrick Kaleta. Gaborik beat Miller on the back-hand much like he did the night before against Nabokov and the Islanders.

That would conclude the scoring in regulation. The Rangers would claim the victory 2:59 into the OT when Ryan Callahan made a nifty move to beat a defender and then slipped the puck between Miller’s glove and left pad. Ryan McDonagh earned the primary assist on the play.

Game Notes:

* The Richards line, with Cally and Hagelin, was very good tonight. Richards in particular skated well and took any opportunity to shoot the puck. He would finish with a team-leading five SOG and an assist on Hagelin’s marker.

* The defensive coverage was again spotty at times. I wonder if the big minutes against stiff competition the top four has played is catching up to them and they are beginning to wear down mentally. I would not be surprised if Slats made a move to reinforce the defense corps before the deadline. Too many breakaways against the last handful of games.

* Hank was his usual solid self though the Rangers held the Sabres to just 20 shots on goal for the evening. The victory puts Hank just one win away from 30 for the year and that would be the 7th consecutive season he has reached that mark.

* Callahan’s goal was the 100th career tally for the Captain. He also established a new career-high in goals with his 24th of the year.

* Marian Gaborik played in the 700th NHL contest in a career which is in its 11th season. He has 312 goals and 312 assists to date; 92 and 94 respectively have come as a New York Ranger.

* Brandon Prust dropped the mitts with Paul Gaustad at the :08 mark of period one. Prust would earn the TKO and Gaustad left briefly with an apparent shoulder separation. He would return later in the period. The Rangers are now 8 – 1 all-time when Prust scraps with an opponent within the 1st two minutes of a game. An interesting stat.

* Del Zotto was hurt in the second-half of the 3rd period after Kaleta shoved the Rangers blue liner into the goal post. To my untrained medical eye it looked as if Del Zotto may have suffered a hip injury (hip pointer?). He also returned, but was in noticeable pain both on the ice and on the bench. With the deadline just hours away, Del Zotto’s health is a situation to monitor.

* With the win the Rangers were able to hang onto their 7-point lead in the conference following Boston’s 5 – 3 win over Ottawa. With 22 games remaining for both clubs the Rangers are still comfortably in control of their own fate.


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