Miller’s OT goal lifts Rangers past Sabres in Winter Classic
NEW YORK (AP) — J.T. Miller scored a power-play goal 2:43 into overtime to lift the New York Rangers to a 3-2 victory over the Buffalo Sabres on Monday in the NHL’s 10th Winter Classic at Citi Field.
Paul Carey and Michael Grabner scored in the first period for the Rangers, who improved to 4-0 in regular season outdoor games. Henrik Lundqvist, who has been in goal for all four of the wins, stopped 31 shots to help New York improve to 6-2-3 in its last 11 overall.
Rasmus Ristolainen had a goal and an assist, Sam Reinhart also scored and Kyle Okposo had two assists for the Sabres. Robin Lehner finished with 39 saves for Buffalo, which has just 10 wins this season but is 4-3-5 in its last 12 games.
The Rangers went on the power play 2:15 into overtime when Jacob Josefson was whistled for tripping Jimmy Vesey. Miller scored the winner on a rebound in front off a shot by Kevin Shattenkirk.
The game, played at the home of baseball’s New York Mets, was on the 10th anniversary of the Sabres’ 2-1 shootout loss to Pittsburgh in Buffalo in the first Winter Classic. This was also the league’s 24th regular season outdoor game.
Buffalo was 1 for 5 on the power play after coming in 30th in the NHL at 12.4 percent. The Rangers went 1 for 3 with the man advantage.
Lundqvist made a sensational save on an attempt by Zemgus Girgensons with 2:12 remaining to keep the score tied.
The national anthem was performed by a group of children born in 2008, the year of the first Winter Classic. The Goo Goo Dolls, a rock band that started in the Buffalo area, performed during the first intermission.
Despite the official temperature at puck drop at 20.5 degrees, the game drew a sellout crowd of 41,821.
There was a shadow across about half the ice lengthwise at the start of the game. Lehner in the Sabres’ goal was in the shade and Lundquist was standing in the sun just beyond the shadow. By the middle of the opening period, the shadow was at least partially covering about two-thirds of the ice, with the team benches in sun on the side facing where home plate usually sits.
The playing surface was completely in the shade at the start of the second period, except for the side boards to Lehner’s right on the first base side of the field.
The Sabres trailed 2-0 after one period before Reinhart cut the deficit in half in the opening minute of the second period. Lundqvist stopped a slap shot by Rasmus Ristolainen but Reinhart knocked in the rebound at 56 seconds.
Shortly before that, Lehner made a stellar stop on a short-handed breakaway by Grabner that would’ve given the Rangers a three-goal lead.
The Sabres tied it in the opening minute of the third. Ristolainen fired a wrist shot off a pass from Ryan O’Reilley for his second at 27 seconds.
To mark the 10th anniversary of their appearance in the Winter Classic, the Sabres gave up a home game to be in this one since the Rangers are contractually obligated to play all their home games at Madison Square Garden for a tax exemption.
New York got on the scoreboard first as Carey got a pass from Jesper Fast and fired it past Lehner from straightaway for his fifth of the season at 4:09.
Grabner made it 2-0 a little more than four minutes later. Marc Staal sent the puck of Lehner’s back as he spun around and skated past the left side of the goal, and it came to Grabner at the right side and he put it in for his 18th at 8:20.
NOTES: After changing ends for the start of the second and third periods, as usual, the teams also switched halfway through the third so each could play exactly half of regulation time in either end of the ice. … Okposo has 13 assists and 17 points in his last 15 games against the Rangers. … Rangers coach Alain Vigneault earned his 635th win, breaking a tie with Darryl Sutter for sole possession of 11th place on the NHL’s all-time list. … Rangers came in 13-0-0 when leading after two periods. … The Sabres are now being outscored 33-15 in the first period this season.