Zibanejad scores in OT, Rangers beat Sabres 3-2

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — Mika Zibanejad one-timed in Artemi Panarin’s pass 4:32 into overtime, and the New York Rangers overcame giving up a late goal in a 3-2 win over the Buffalo Sabres on Thursday night.

Filip Chytil and Colin Blackwell also scored and Igor Shesterkin stopped 21 shots in a game New York persevered after Buffalo’s Tage Thompson forced overtime by scoring with 4 seconds left.

The Rangers won for the fifth time in seven outings, and improved to 7-3-1 in their past 11 since ending a three-game skid. New York moved into a tie for fifth place in the East Division with the slumping Philadelphia Flyers, who are off until Saturday, and coming off a 6-1 loss at Buffalo on Wednesday night.

The Sabres’ win over Philadelphia snapped an 0-15-3 skid that ranked as the NHL’s 14th-longest winless streak.

Though Buffalo opened the scoring on Rasmus Asplund’s goal 2:06 in, the team appeared to run out of steam in playing on consecutive nights. The Sabres were outshot 47-23 overall and 36-11 after the first period.

Buffalo still had enough resolve with Thompson scoring through a crowd from the left circle and with the Sabres’ net empty for an extra attacker.

Backup Dustin Tokarski stopped 44 shots in having his record drop to 0-3-1 this season.

The teams complete a two-game series at Buffalo on Saturday night.

The decisive goal came on a 2-on-1 break with Panarin driving up the right wing. He fed a pass across to Zibanejad, who blasted in a shot from the left circle.

Chytil put the Rangers up 2-1 during a scramble to the right of the net at 6:17 of the third. He flipped a shot over Tokarski, who was attempting to smother the puck before New York’s Julien Gauthier dug it loose.

The Rangers dominated the second period in outshooting the Sabres 15-2, but managed to beat Tokarski just once in tying the score at 1 on Blackwell’s goal 6:40 into the frame.

Driving in on a 2-on-1 break, Blackwell’s initial shot from the left circle hit the post. The Rangers controlled the puck with Panarin feeding Blackwell for a one-timer from essentially the same spot, after he was left alone by Buffalo’s defenders.

The Sabres scored the opening goal for the fourth consecutive time, after doing so on nine previous occasions this season.

Rasmus Dahlin shot from the right point was stopped by Shesterkin, while Cody Eakin got to the rebound and slid the puck behind the goalie. Rangers defenseman Brandon Smith stopped the puck before it crossed the goal line, before Asplund shoved it in.

Asplund was playing his first game after missing four with an upper-body injury.

MILESTONES

Panarin had two assists to give him 88 in 94 games with the Rangers. He moved ahead of Wayne Gretzky, who had 86 assist through his first 100 games in New York. Mark Messier’s 92 assists through 100 games tops the Blueshirts’ list.

Ryan Strome had an assist to extend his point streak to 11 games, in which he has two goals and 14 assists. Strome also has assists in 10 straight games, matching New York’s second longest streak set by Rod Gilbert in 1968-69. Brian Leetch holds the team record with assists in 15 straight in 1991-92.

SABRES SCOUTING

Rangers coach David Quinn said he’s noticed the Sabres are playing with a more aggressive forecheck under interim coach Don Granato, who took over after Ralph Krueger was fired on March 17. “They seem to be playing ore on their toes, and they’ve started playing more confident,” Quinn said.

BACK ON TEXTING TERMS

Granato joked things were becoming so difficult during the Sabres’ skid, family and friends were no longer texting him after losses. Even his dad.

That changed after Granato checked his phone following the win.

“The thing lit up pretty good,” he said. “I’d wondered if people were watching or stopped watching, but apparently they didn’t.”

ROSTER UPDATES

Rangers: Center Brett Howden is on the verge of being cleared from the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol, after spending his 11th day on the list. Quinn could not provide a timetable for Howden’s return, except to say he won’t rejoin the team until the Rangers return to New York after playing at Buffalo on Saturday.

Sabres: Center Curtis Lazar is listed week to week with a lower-body injury sustained on Wednesday.

DOUBLING UP

F Steven Fogarty, with his first NHL career goal, was among five Sabres players enjoy a multi-point outing in a 6-1 win over Philadelphia on Wednesday. That was the most Sabres to do so in one game since five had multi-point outings in a 5-2 win over St. Louis on Dec. 20, 2019.

The six goals matched a season-high for Buffalo, and marked just the fifth time the team has scored four or more in regulation.

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