BUFFALO -- The Rangers had stated that their goal was to carry over their level of play from the last 40 minutes of their previous game, three nights earlier in Winnipeg. That game carried over in more ways than one: another one-goal, third-period lead for the Rangers, another chance to finish off a solid road game by putting away the two points.
On this night, they put it away with 1-2 punch that came in the blink of an eye.
Weathering a Buffalo push as they protected that one-goal lead with the clock winding down, the Rangers delivered the knockout blows eight seconds apart and pulled away from the Buffalo Sabres, scoring a 6-2 victory in a game that David Quinn called "playoff-type hockey."
The Rangers, who have the league's hottest goal-scorer at the top of their lineup, had five different players hit the back of the net on this night, none of them named Mika. In fact, Buffalo held one of the NHL's hottest lines to a single assist for the game, but the Rangers, with 11 forwards dressed, got goals from each of their other three lines and poured it on at the end.
Pavel Buchnevich and Vlad Namestnikov drove in the daggers within eight seconds of one another with four minutes to play in the game. For Namestnikov, it was one of his two goals on the night - his first multigoal game as a Blueshirt - while Boo Nieves, Jesper Fast and Jimmy Vesey each scored and Alexandar Georgiev followed his record-breaking performance with another strong one, 31 saves to win his third consecutive start.
Video: NYR@BUF: Rangers score two goals in eight seconds
Mika Zibanejad had scored twice in Winnipeg three nights before and 13 times in the Rangers' last 11 games, and so after this one, Kevin Hayes, who had two assists, couldn't hold back his surprise not to see Zibanejad join him on the scoresheet for one night.
"Did Mika score?" Hayes asked afterward. "I mean, when you're winning games when Mika's not scoring, that's a good thing. That guy has been lights-out, and our team's running through him right now - he's playing great hockey. It's shocking not to see him score a goal, but a win when he doesn't score, we'll take it for sure."
Quinn said it "felt really good" on a six-goal night - matching a season high set against Carolina one month earlier to the day - to see the scoring spread up and down the lineup, but he felt compelled to pick out one line in particular.
"I'll tell you that Strome, Namestnikov, Fast line was really good. Got to the point where I was putting them out there against Eichel's line, the way they were playing," Quinn said. "Boy did they hound the puck, they had zone time, I thought they were responsible defensively. They really played well for us, that line. It was big for us tonight."
Of Namestnikov in particular, the coach added: "I'm really happy for Vladdy, because I think he's played two great games (on the road trip) - I think that Winnipeg games he had some great chances. … He's doing all these other things well that it's good to see him get rewarded."
Video: NYR@BUF: Georgiev robs Thompson to preserve lead
Georgiev, meanwhile, was back in goal for the Rangers five nights after his 55-save win against the Maple Leafs on Sunday at the Garden. Jeff Skinner, the NHL's second-leading goal-scorer, was the only man to beat him on this night, both in the second period, once early and once a power play late in the frame. But the rookie stopped all 13 shots he saw in the third period and shepherded home a game in which the Rangers held the lead for the final 55:51.
"When he's on his game, he controls rebounds really well, he's tracking the puck really well, he puts pucks agfter shots in areas where they're not dangerous," said Marc Staal. "He was doing it again tonight. He played really well."
Quinn once again went with seven defensemen in his lineup (with Brendan Smith taking turns on the wing) - which this time was fortuitous when Brady Skjei left the game in the second period with a lower-body injury. Quinn called the blueliner day-to-day and said he could be back on Sunday afternoon when the Rangers play the third game in this four-game road set in Pittsburgh. "There doesn't seem to be a lot of concern coming from our trainers," the coach said.
One of the 11 forwards to dress on Friday was Connor Brickley, acquired from Nashville a month ago, called up to the Rangers in time to join Thursday's practice and making a contribution on his very first shift as a Ranger. It came on a delayed Buffalo penalty, after Brickley took a puck to the net and started the scramble that led to Smith being hauled down just before Nieves pounced on the loose puck and fired it home 4:09 into the game.
The Rangers doubled the lead 10 minutes later when Namestnikov, backing up Tony DeAngelo at the left point, slapped one into traffic that found the shaft of Fast's stick, the Swede's eight goal.
Video: NYR@BUF: Vesey buries Buchnevich's one-handed feed
Skinner closed the gap 53 seconds into the second when three Rangers were caught below the goal line, but that margin lasted only 58 seconds before the Vesey-Hayes-Buchnevich line scored the first of its two workmanlike goals on the night. Buchnevich, being mashed into the glass behind Linus Ullmark's net, used his only free hand to curl a backhand pass toward the front, and Vesey jumped in front of Jake McCabe to tuck it home.
It was Vesey's 13th goal this season, his second in three games - and his fifth in his last four games against the Sabres. Three of those, including Friday night's, have been game-winners.
But once Skinner made it a 3-2 game - the winger's 36th goal of the season, trailing only Alex Ovechkin - Quinn said his team was "kind of deflated a little bit I thought when they scored that second goal - you come out of that period and it's only 3-2."
"Human nature is, you're going to get a push, and that's what we got out of them to start the third," the coach said. "But then as the period went along I thought we started weathering it, managed it, and did a really good job. And then the fourth goal is enormous, obviously."
Buchnevich got that one with 4:01 left at the end of a shift in which the Hayes unit hunted pucks for a full minute, would not let the Sabres leave the zone and might have scored three on one shift. Hayes set up the one they did get, showing shot from the top of the slot before slapping a pass for Buchnevich, who was behind Ullmark beside the left post.
"That's what our coaches want us to do, and that's what we did," Hayes said of the shift as a whole. "(The Sabres) were out there for a bit, their line, and they were gassed. We took advantage of it."
Video: NYR@BUF: Namestnikov pots second goal into empty net
Namestnikov unwrapped a gift from Ullmark off the ensuing faceoff, when the goaltender misplayed a rim-around behind his net and kicked it out front where there was no one but Namestnikov. It had the Ranger winger smiling all the way until his empty-netter with 57.8 seconds to provide the final score, with an assist from Mats Zuccarello that gave him points in 12 of the last 13 games.
"The team played really good, played with a lot of jam," Hayes said. "They got good players over there, they're a good team. We did something well in WInnipeg, didn't get two points, and tonight we did."