Skapski blanks Sabres in second NHL start; Yandle scores first goal as a Ranger
In just his second career NHL start, Mackenzie Skapski led the first place New York Rangers (43-17-7) to a 2-0 win over the Buffalo Sabres (19-43-4) for New York’s fourth straight win, all coming on the recent five game road trip. The Rangers finished that trip with a 4-0-1 record.
The Rangers have won nine of their last 11 road games, and are 13-1-2 in their last 16 contests. Since Henrik Lundqvist went down with the vascular injury, the Rangers are 14-2-3.
With an Islanders losing 3-1 to the Canadiens tonight, the Rangers now have a three point lead in the standings with four games in hand. The Blueshirts have a chance to further that lead when they take on the Florida Panthers tomorrow.
The Rangers, with 93 points, are now tied with the Montreal Canadiens and the Anaheim Ducks for first place in the NHL. New York has played two less games than Montreal and three less than Anaheim.
The Sabres were winless in their last five games coming into tonight’s game, and many expected that they wouldn’t put up much of a fight, especially with Zach Bogosian out and the roster depleted following the trade deadline. So it came as a surprise to many when the game was scoreless through the first two periods.
Anders Lindback was in net for the Sabres making his 100th NHL start, making some nice saves early on, and stopping 31 of the 32 shots that he faced. He got some help from the post, but played well. Unfortunately for him, the Sabres couldn’t do enough to give him his first save as a member of the Sabres.
Mackenzie Skapski was making his second career start, giving the hard-working Cam Talbot a night off. Skapski made less saves that in his debut, but he made some highlight reel saves this time around, earning his second career win and his first NHL shutout.
Skapski extended his personal shutout streak to 119:46, and became just the fourth goalie in NHL history to win his first career starts against the same team. This marks the first time in franchise history that three different goalies have all recorded shutouts with the Rangers (Lundqvist – 5, Talbot – 5, Skapski – 1).
The Rangers had the better of the chances in the first period, attempting 22 shots, but they could not finish their chances, allowing the Sabres to hang around. The Rangers best two chances came on the power play. Derick Brassard’s slap shot glanced off of Lindback’s glove and off of the post, and then JT Miller hit the post about a minute later.
The Sabres only had seven shots that period, but Skapski stood tall on their best opportunity. Tyler Ennis had a breakaway chance, and Skapski was able to square up to the shot and stone Ennis with Staal right behind him.
Skapski’s best save of the game came early in the second period, making a fantastic side-to-side play to rob Brian Gionta of a goal. On a three-on-two chance, Marcus Foligno got the puck over to Varone, who slid it over to Gionta for a tap-in. Skapski read the play very well, and kicked off the post, moving to his left and robbing GIonta with a glove, keeping the game scoreless.
Skapski would make one more great save in the period, getting a glove on Tim Schaller’s wrist shot in the closing seconds of the period.
Martin St. Louis nearly scored in the period following a great play by Matt Hunwick, who made a great play to draw the attention of Lindback, and then hit St. Louis with a pass. He went backhand, but the 6-foot-7 Lindback got his pad on it, deflecting the puck off of the post.
The Rangers finally managed to break through 7:31 into the third period, and it was Keith Yandle scoring his first goal as a Ranger in his sixth game with New York. Martin St. Louis passed it to Yandle at the point, and his wrist shot went through a crowd of about five people in front of Lindback, and found the back of the net, giving New York the lead.
Buffalo would pressure, and pulled their goalie late, but Martin St. Louis poked the puck away from Ristolainen, and shot it into the empty net, sealing the win for the Rangers.
It was somewhat of a frustrating game for the Rangers, as they really didn’t capitalize on their early chances against a struggling Sabres team. Skapski made big saves early, and the Rangers pressure eventually turned into a goal.
The best lines for the Rangers were the bottom two yet again. Carl Hagelin and Kevin Hayes were really good, with JT Miller and Jesper Fast rotating on the right win. Fast had one of his best games since returning from a knee injury. He was active, getting the puck on net, and creating lots of Rangers chances. The rest of the fourth line also played well, establishing a few long forechecking shifts and some quality chances.
Keith Yandle and Matt Hunwick started the game together, and actually played really well together. Hunwick did not miss a beat despite spending the last seven games in the press box, joining the rush and playing strong defense. Yandle was finally able to get on the score sheet, netting his fifth goal of the season, and scoring the game winning goal at a crucial moment.
The Rangers next game will be tomorrow at 5 PM when they head back to Madison Square Garden to take on the Florida Panthers.
1) Keith Yandle – 1 G, 3 SOG, 18:34 TOT
2) Mackenzie Skapski – 20 SV, 1.000 SV%
3) Martin St. Louis – 1 G, 1 A, +2, 17:20 TOT
Posted on March 15, 2015, in Game Recaps and tagged Alain Vigneault, Buffalo Sabres, Cam Talbot, Carl Hagelin, Chris Kreider, Connor McDavid, Dan Boyle, Dan Girardi, Derek Stepan, Derick Brassard, Dominic Moore, Glass, Henrik Lundqvist, Islanders, Jesper Fast, JT Miller, Kevin Hayes, Kevin Klein, King Henrik, Mackenzie Skapski, Madison Square Garden, Marc Staal, Martin St. Louis, Mats Zuccarello, Matt Hunwick, Matt Martin, Matt Moulson, MSG, MSL, New York Classic, New York Islanders, New York Rangers, NHL, NHL 2014-2015 Season, NY Rangers, NYR, Rangers, Rangers Nation, Rangerstown, Rick Nash, Ryan McDonagh, Tanner Glass, The Ranger Zone, Zuccarello. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.