The New York Rangers rallied around teammate Brad Richards, who was the victim of Patrick Kaleta's reckless and dangerous hit from behind, to tally two goals in the third period and score twice in the shootout, as the club topped the Buffalo Sabres 3-2 at Madison Square Garden on Sunday. Rick Nash and Ryan Callahan's goals in the shootout, and the stellar penalty-killing effort in overtime that preceded them, gave the Blueshirts their second straight win and snapped a season-high three-game winning streak for the Sabres.
Kaleta tossed: Kaleta was ejected from the game after the nasty push from behind that sent Richards sprawling neck-first into the boards and onto the ice writhing in pain for several minutes at 3:28 of the third period. Kaleta earned a five-minute major for checking from behind and a game misconduct on the play, and will likely face supplementary discipline as a result. Richards was able to skate off on his own, and the Rangers scored almost immediately after on Derek Stepan’s power-play marker. Nash followed up 43 seconds later for a 2-1 lead.
Tied up: Up 2-1 with a firm grip on momentum, the Rangers surrendered a spirit-sapping shorthanded goal to Sabres winger Nathan Gerbe at 8:19 of the third period. It was the second shorthanded goal the Rangers have given up this season.
First strike: After Anton Stralman iced the puck, a tired Rangers squad got caught at the end of a lengthy shift to surrender the game’s first goal midway through the second period, when Drew Stafford’s shot glanced off Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist's glove for a 1-0 lead at 8:04.
Musical wings: John Tortorella tried to jump-start the Rangers offense with a number of different line combinations in the second period, as he shuffled struggling winger Marian Gaborik. Gaborik began the game on the third line with rookie J.T. Miller and center Brian Boyle, but also skated with first-liners Richards and Nash and second-liners Stepan and Callahan during the middle frame.
Top gun: The Sabres were without their leading scorer, Thomas Vanek, for the second straight game. Vanek, who has an unspecified upper-body injury, is third in the league with 12 goals and 15 assists. Meanwhile, the Rangers were missing rugged fourth-liner Arron Asham for the fifth straight game with a back injury that, although initially thought to be minor, has sidelined the forward since Feb. 21.
Up Next: Rangers versus the Philadelphia Flyers, Tuesday at 7 p.m.