Buffalo Sabres stay cold against the Rangers

NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 01: Robin Lehner
NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 01: Robin Lehner /

The Buffalo Sabres did their bit to contribute to an entertaining winter classic, but still come up short in overtime against the New York Rangers.

It’s been 10 years removed since the Buffalo Sabres appeared in the first ever Winter Classic. On that occasion, the Pittsburgh Penguins got the better of Buffalo as Sidney Crosby won it in a shootout.

The Swords found themselves in another extra time contest 10 years later with the New York Rangers. Similarly, New York found the winner from J.T. Miller in overtime, to make the Sabres 0-2-0 all-time when playing outdoors.

Buffalo remained competitive throughout the duration of the game. Robin Lehner was solid with 40 saves in the contest, as Buffalo has collected four out of six points in their recent spell of away games. Phil Housley seems to be proud of the results, and the fans should too.

The Rangers, as expected, played with a lot more urgency than the Sabres early on. Two goals came in the span of the opening 10 minutes from Paul Carey and Michael Grabner, which put Buffalo in a really tough spot.

The blue shirts continued to out-chance Buffalo for the remaining portion of the first period. Ryan McDonagh led the defense to shut down any threat from the Sabres, while Henrik Lundqvist continued to be the show-stopper outdoors.

Right as the second frame began, Grabner’s serious pace led him past Rasmus Ristolainen and towards Lehner. This time, the Swede got the better of the Rangers number 40 by deflecting his shot wide.

The save from the 26-year-old proved to be the play of the game. Moments after the save, Ristolainen fed a shot towards the net that eventually got patted home by Sam Reinhart for his sixth tally of the season.

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Buffalo controlled most of the second period, which ultimately built a ton of momentum to tie the game in the third. Ristolainen took a wrist shot from the point that completely stumped Lundqvist to make it two a piece.

Jimmy Vesey and David Desharnais connected with some one-two passes into the Sabres’ zone. Eventually, Desharnais got the last tip on goal, but Lehner stuck out his left pad to make another crucial save.

Probably the most entertaining Winter Classic to date went into extra time. Moments into OT, however, Jacob Josefson took an unneeded penalty when tripping up Vesey in the neutral zone.

Seconds after the penalty, Kevin Shattenkirk took a shot that found its way through traffic. Marco Scandella was out to lunch as Miller was completely unmarked in front to send in the goal that left the Buffalo Sabres starting the new year with a loss.

The overall entertainment value was still there though. Buffalo aren’t really playing for much at this point of the season, so witnessing them compete with New York outdoors should be embraced.

Buffalo aren’t going to be blessed with an easy schedule after this. Their next five games include opponents near playoff contention before they match up against the Rangers again on Jan. 18.

Overall, it wasn’t the worst start to the new year for the Sabres. A lot of players put out some really good performances that fans can only wish would remain for the whole season.

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Who was the most impressive player for the Buffalo Sabres in the Winter Classic? What was your overall take on the game? Let us know in the comments section below.