If it’s any consolation, the New York Rangers are really good in the second half of back-to-backs.
Rangers fans were certainly looking for anything positive after an embarrassing 60 minutes of hockey, minutes that ended in a woeful 4-1 defeat at the hands of the Buffalo Sabres.
Playing their first game in the new calendar year, the Rangers (26-13-1) appeared hungover from the New Year’s festivities, their A-game apparently left behind in 2016. Outshot 9-5 by a Buffalo languishing in the depths of the Eastern Conference in the first period, the Rangers let up two goals, one by Zemgus Girgensons and the other by Evander Kane, to fall behind early. The Rangers normally had surprisingly good karma after trailing by two goals at the end of the first, but the horror show had only just begun.
The Rangers slightly picked up the play in the second, outshooting the Sabres 15-4,
but that first shot turned out to be a bit of a backbreaker for the Blueshirts. Justin Bailey, son of former New York Giant Carlton Bailey, scored the first goal his NHL career off a turnover, making it 3-0 early in the second. Brief hope surfaced for the Rangers when Nick Holden scored his eighth of the season, but any hope of a comeback was snuffed out another turnover early in the third led to another Buffalo goal, this one by Jack Eichel. Of the young star’s seven goals this season, three have come against the Rangers. Buffalo (14-15-8) has won three straight against the Blueshirts with last night’s win, ensuring they will take the season series of three. The Rangers will get one last shot at redemption on February 2.
The Rangers will immediately get back to action tonight, taking on the Philadelphia Flyers (8 PM, NBCSN)
Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffMags5490