Sabres start strong, but stumble in overtime loss to Rangers

Buffalo scores first for the fourth-straight game, but fail to sustain pressure against the Rangers
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Fresh off locating the win column for the first time since Feb. 23 on Wednesday night against the Philadelphia Flyers, the Buffalo Sabres looked to earn a second-straight win on Thursday night against the New York Rangers at KeyBank Center.

Despite a 44-save effort from goalie Dustin Tokarski and a late game-tying goal from Tage Thompson, it was Rangers forward Mika Zibanejad who dropped the curtain on the Sabres in a 3-2 overtime loss for Buffalo.

For the fourth-straight contest, it was the Sabres grabbing the opening goal of the night against their opposition. Rasmus Asplund slotted back into the lineup in place of the injured Curtis Lazar, and Asplund paid immediate dividends. He poked home a loose puck in the Rangers' crease for his third goal of the season.

The visitors tied the game 6:40 into the second period after a wild sequence.

Jeff Skinner made a great defensive play at his own blue line and skated free on a breakaway. The only problem was his stick was knocked out of his hands by Rangers defenseman Libor Hajek. Skinner went in all alone with nothing but his skates and a dream, doing his best to get the puck deep at the least.

The Rangers got the puck back shortly thereafter, and forward Colin Blackwell scored his ninth goal of the season on Tokarski.

The Rangers took their first lead of the night with 13:43 to play in regulation, when Filip Chytil was able to jam home a loose puck in the Sabres' crease amidst a goal-mouth scramble. It was the forward's seventh goal of the 2020-21 season.

It looked like that would be the game-winner for the Rangers, but Thompson had other plans. With 3.6 seconds left in the game, the lanky forward let loose a quick shot to tie the game at 2-2 extend the game into overtime.

Despite the last-second heroics from Thompson, Zibanejad got the last laugh on this night. The Rangers forward teamed up with Artemi Panarin, and the duo combined for a perfectly-executed 2-on-1, which culminated with a one-time blast off his stick with 27.7 seconds left in the extra frame.

The 3-2 overtime loss drops the Sabres to 7-23-6 in 2020-21.

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GAME SUMMARY

Goal Summary:

First Period:
BUF: 2:06 - Rasmus Asplund (3) (Jeff Skinner)
NYR: NONE

Second Period:
BUF: NONE
NYR: 6:40 - Colin Blackwell (9) (Artemi Panarin, Ryan Strome)

Third Period:
BUF: 19:56 - Tage Thompson (2) (Casey Mittelstadt, Sam Reinhart)
NYR: 13:43 - Filip Chytil (7) (Julien Gauthier, Alexis Lafreniere)

Overtime:
BUF: NONE
NYR: 4:32 - Mika Zibanejad (12) (Artemi Panarin, Adam Fox)

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Penalty Summary:

First Period:
BUF: 17:34 - Casey Mittelstadt (Roughing - 2 min.)
NYR: 19:56 - Phillip Di Giuseppe (Slashing - 2 min.)

Second Period:
BUF: 14:55 - Colin Miller (Tripping - 2 min.)
NYR: NONE

Third Period:
BUF: 7:39 - Rasmus Ristolainen (Holding - 2 min.); 13:55 - Steven Fogarty (Goaltender interference - 2 min.)
NYR: NONE

Overtime:
BUF: NONE
NYR: NONE

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STATS OF THE GAME

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Losi and Gangi Three Stars of the Game:
1.) Dustin Tokarski - BUF
2.) Colin Blackwell - NYR
3.) Artemi Panarin - NYR

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What's Next:
The blue and gold will, again, host the New York Rangers on Saturday evening. Puck drop at KeyBank Center is set for 7 p.m. ET with the Paul William Beltz Pregame Show with Brian Koziol and Paul Hamilton starting at 6 p.m. ET on the radio home of the Sabres - WGR Sports Radio 550.

Featured Image Photo Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig - USA TODAY Sports