If teams keep the Rangers from running, they have no chance.
The blueshirts could not overcome the Sabers' action, and their late rise was simply not enough in a 2: 3 loss in the Garden on Friday evening.
Although the Rangers had scored two goals in the past three minutes to take a 3-2 win from a 3-0 deficit, they simply didn't have enough to tie him.
It becomes a formula to defeat the Rangers – clog the neutral zone, don't show their abilities open ice and wait for them. If the games narrow before the close of trading on February 24, which affects almost every round – almost – this could be the cause of the Rangers' season bleeding out.
The Rangers (26-23-4) won 5-3 against Maple Leafs at the Garden on Wednesday, a game in which young goalkeeper Igor Shesterkin stole the show by scoring his fourth win in five career starts. But he was a good scratch for this game as the carousel spun three goals and Alexandar Georgiev faced the Sabers (24: 23: 8), who lost to the Red Wings on Thursday on penalties.
This was Georgiev's first start against a team other than the Islanders since January 4 in Vancouver. During this time, he played three games against the islands and on Monday defeated the third against the guest stars.
At the start of Friday's third round, Georgiev was defeated by his counterpart, Carter Hutton, who had discarded all 16 shots he faced to give his team a 2-0 lead.
The Rangers didn't have much pressure in the first 17 minutes of the third, and after a move from Jacob Trouba – followed by Trouba who just watched him go by – old buddy Jimmy Vesey slid between Georgiev's legs around his at 11:56 Team to give a 3-0 lead.
Coach David Quinn then put his big three together – Artemi Panarin, Mika Zibanejad and Chris Kreider – and Panarin made a great cross-ice backhand feed for Zibanejad, which buried him at the back post with 2:53 to 3: 1 in the Regulation remain.
Rookie Kaapo Kakko – who started the game in the fourth row – shifted with the big boys and took a penalty. Quinn pulled Georgiev for the additional attacker, and Kreider managed to hit one just above the goal line to 3: 2 with only 1:38.
But that's about it, because the deficit was too big to be overcome.
The first 40 minutes were pretty lukewarm as the Sabers did everything they could to keep the pace as low as possible and the Rangers did little to change that. But Buffalo took a 1-0 lead at 10:26 am when the Rangers got into a bad change and Zemgus Girgensons went to the top of the net and backhanded past Georgiev.
In the middle of the second, Georgiev was forced to play a good parade on a Buffalo power play. He lunged for a shot from Sam Reinhart to score 1-0. But he couldn't stop Reinhart when he rushed through the middle with a semi-breakaway and raised a backhand into the net at 15:16 a second, giving Buffalo a 2-0 lead.
Kakko had some skillful sticks under control to get a shot late in the second. But Hutton stopped it and the Sabers changed their lead from two goals to the third.