Eighty-one shots were traded between the Buffalo Sabres and the New York Rangers at KeyBank Center on Thursday night, and yet the two teams came with away with just three goals to show for it. It was a goalie duel between Robin Lehner and Henrik Lundqvist, both coming up time after time for their teams in a game that could have been lopsided in either direction.
One team would have to lose, of course, and on this night it was Lehner who was beat last. The final seconds had ticked off the clock on a 4-on-3 Rangers power play in overtime, but before Taylor Fedun could make his way from the penalty box Chris Kreider scored the game-winner with a one-time shot on an odd-man rush to clinch a 2-1 victory for New York.
"It was a good game," Lehner said. "It was an entertaining game, it was a fun game to play. It just sucks that we got a penalty there and at the end of that penalty they come up with a big play."
Video: LEHNER: Postgame
Lehner made a season-high 42 saves in the loss. The only other goal he allowed came with the Rangers on the power play late in the second period, when Mats Zuccarello stood at the net front to deflect a shot from the point by Ryan McDonagh.
The Sabres responded by pouring on pressure in the third period, including a power play that featured six shots on goal. Their best chance came when a quick pass across the crease set up Kyle Okposo for a one-time shot from point-blank range, but Lundqvist got over in time to swallow the puck for perhaps the most difficult of his 36 saves.
Buffalo did eventually break Lundqvist when Cody Franson scored to tie the game with 5:31 remaining in regulation, taking his time to field a rebound in the slot and beating the New York goaltender with a shot to the bottom corner on the near side.
Video: NYR@BUF: Franson buries wrister from slot to tie game
Evander Kane beat Lundqvist again in overtime when he pulled a move to burst into the offensive zone with room to shoot, but his shot rang off the post.
"I mean usually when you hit the post you have the goalie beat so yeah, I had him beat, but it didn't go in the net so it doesn't matter unfortunately," Kane said.
You could argue that the performance from the line of Kane, Zemgus Girgensons and Brian Gionta was a microcosm of the night for Sabres. The trio played with speed, was strong on the forecheck and came away with a combined 31 shot attempts and 17 shots on goal to show for it - but no goals.
"We were taking it to them pretty good," Kane said. "I think our line, we were feeling good about what we were doing … It was a tough, tough, tough loss. For some of the things we did out there to not score and give Lenny a little bit more help on the scoreboard, it was tough."
The players who spoke after the game agreed: their performance was a sizeable improvement from their 5-2 loss in Montreal on Tuesday. But that small silver lining didn't help ease the regret of leaving a point on the table.
"It just wasn't our night I guess," Kane said. "That's kind of what you've got to chalk it up to when it comes to the offensive part. But like I said, we can't settle for overtime losses. We've got to get W's."
A special goal for Franson
At the time, it looked like Franson's celebration after scoring to tie the game was a sort of exhale after finally beating Lundqvist. The defenseman stood in place, reached both arms into the air and looked to the sky as his teammates swarmed him.
While he didn't go into detail, he admitted afterward that the moment actually meant a bit more.
"There's a little something to that one for me," Franson said. "I had a family issue over the break. It felt good to get that one. Unfortunately we didn't get the win that we were looking for but nice to be able to contribute."
Video: FRANSON: Postgame
Franson had a difficult game in Montreal on Tuesday, when he was a part of two turnovers that led to Canadiens goals, so his offensive contribution combined with a strong night defensively marked a positive response. His goal also marked his sixth point in his last six games (2+4).
Bogosian leaves with injury
Zach Bogosian left for the dressing room with 4:22 remaining in the first period and did not return. It was announced that Bogosian sustained a mid-body injury.
Sabres coach Dan Bylsma did not have any further update after the game. As a result of the injury, the Sabres were forced to rotate five defensemen for the remainder of the game.
"Bogo's been a horse for us," Franson said. "He's played very well. When you lose a guy like that it's up to the rest of us to saddle up and get ready to go and I think we did a good job of that."
The Sabres are already playing without Josh Gorges and Jake McCabe on defense, but both have progressed to skating recently as they work to get back on the ice with the team.
"It's kind of been the norm for us, especially on the back end," Bylsma said. "Hopefully we get a little bit healthier in other areas soon depending on how long Zach's going to be out, if he's going to be out."
The Sabres will conclude their two-game homestand when they host the Ottawa Senators at KeyBank Center on Saturday night. It will be the fourth of five matchups between the two teams this season; Buffalo is 2-0-1 in the first three games.
Coverage on Saturday begins at 6:30 p.m. with the Tops Pregame Show on MSG-B. You can also hear the game live on WGR 550, or join us at the game live. The puck drops between the Sabres and Senators at 7 p.m.