For the second straight night after the six-day All Star break concluded the Rangers were forced to play more than the requisite 60 minutes Wednesday evening in Buffalo. And for the second straight night the Rangers had a game decided in the shootout.
Unlike Tuesday night's 4-3 loss in New Jersey, however, the Rangers defeated the Sabres 1-0 in the shootout Wednesday night at the First Niagara Center.
Ryan Callahan's goal in the fifth round handed the Blueshirts the victory after New York's Marian Gaborik and Buffalo's Jason Pominville had traded shootout goals in the opening three rounds to force the sudden death.
Henrik Lundqvist earned his sixth shutout of the season and 41st of his career by stopping all 34 shots he faced through regulation and overtime. Ryan Miller picked up his first shutout of the season for the Sabres, finishing with 29 saves, including four in the five-minute overtime.
The two teams played an extremely even first 40 minutes, and the numbers backed that up as neither team scored a goal and both managed 19 shots on goal. And another similarity was that each team's goaltender was its best player.
Lundqvist was very sharp as the Sabres put plenty of traffic in front of him on a consistent basis, while Miller was at his best at the start of the second period when the Rangers managed six shots in the first four minutes. Miller made big point-blank saves on Ryan Callahan and Michael Del Zotto in the second. Lundqvist was saved at one point by defenseman Ryan McDonagh, who stationed himself behind his goalie late in the second to swat a puck out of midair before it could cross the goal line.
The Rangers penalty killers---with Brian Boyle in particular standing out---turned in back-to-back successful kills in the first period, including 42 seconds worth of a two-man disadvantage with Lundqvist making a pair of big-time saves. Overall the Rangers killed off all five Sabres power plays, including one with 5:11 left to play in the third period and another when Del Zotto was whistled for a delay of game penalty with just 1:38 remaining in regulation.
The Rangers will next play Sunday afternoon against the Flyers at The Garden, the start of a three-game homestand, and the first of two meetings within a week against Philly.