The Rangers keep their point-streak alive, but can’t get the win in Vitaly Kravtsov’s debut.
On Saturday, the New York Rangers took on the Buffalo Sabres in a special game. Top prospect Vitaly Kravtsov made his long-awaited NHL debut. This season is all about the youngsters and Kravtsov joined the club.
The Rangers, who are in the hunt for a playoff spot, needed to win this game against the worst team in the league, the Sabres, before heading into a tough four-game stretch.
• Kravtsov slots in as the RW on the “Diaper Line”
• LW Phillip Di Giuseppe scratched
• Fourth line: Colin Blackwell as LW, Julien Gauthier as RW
• Igor Shesterkin in net
1st period: Welcome to the show, Vitaly!
All eyes were on Kravtsov in the first period, but the Rangers got on the board thanks to his countryman, Artemiy Panarin. He took a strange but intelligent shot on the power play after noticing he had a brief moment on the open net. He’s their best for a reason.
Unfortunately for the Rangers, they ended up conceding an avoidable goal that saw them come out of the first period tied at one.
As for Kravtsov, he looked confident and was very proactive up and down the ice. He looked good and had strong shifts throughout the period.
2nd period: Guess who?
The Rangers were undisciplined in the second and having to play shorthanded on back-to-back penalty kills took a clear toll on them.
Lucky for them, the Breadman came through once again. He sniped one past Sabres goalie Linus Ullmark to give his team a 2-1 lead to defend in the third period.
The Rangers were winning, at this point, but were outshot 10-9 in each of the first two periods and were getting dominated by the Sabres. Their play thus far would not be acceptable in the final 20 minutes of the game.
3rd period: Of course
It’s ironic that the Rangers lost the only period in which they outshot the Sabres. They gave up a late game-tying goal for the second-straight game.
The Rangers weren’t able to turn things around and were sloppy in their own zone, resulting in this goal. At least their point-streak is alive and well.
Overtime: Missed chance
Mika Zibanejad had the chance to win the game in overtime once again, but missed the net on a great opportunity. That was the best chance the Rangers had during that five minute span in which they looked fatigued.
Shootout: Ullmark or Hasek?
Ullmark, who had been playing incredibly well for the Sabres all throughout this game, continued to shine in the shootout.
Shesterkin didn’t look bad on the shootout, even making a Henrik Lundqvist-like save on Victor Olofsson, but that wasn’t enough. Ullmark saved all three Rangers’ attempts to give his team the win.
The Rangers did come away with a point, but they’re in a close race for the playoffs and needed two. Five of their six games against the Sabres this season have ended with a score of 3-2.
It’s worrisome that they haven’t played dominant hockey against the worst team in the league, something that won’t help their case as they try to make it to the postseason.
Key Moment: Ullmark’s save on Kravtsov
The key moment of the game involved the rookie making his NHL debut. Kravtsov made a great defensive play and then went on to make an alert and impressive dive to get the puck past Ullmark in the third, but Buffalo’s netminder made a fantastic stop.
That puck goes in almost any other time and both Kravtsov and his teammates are unlucky that Ullmark made the save of the game there.
Player of the game: Adam Fox
Once again, Adam Fox was the best player on the ice. With two assists on the night, his point-streak has been extended to 10 games. He’s scored 18 points over that span.
What makes him so elite is his ability to still be impactful even when he doesn’t have it on both ends of the ice. He wasn’t particularly great in his own zone tonight, but was incredible offensively.
Fox really is emerging as one of the top defenseman in the game and is a key piece of this Rangers team, especially as the quarterback of their power play.
Fox’s numbers: 28:07 TOI, 2 A, 48.21 CF%, 0.06 iXG, 1.15 xGF, 0.88 xGA, 1.06 GF, 0.92 GA, 1.72 Game Score, -0.33 defensive rating, 0.76 offensive rating, and 1.28 individual rating.
Stats are courtesy of Hockey Stat Cards and Natural Stat Trick.