NEW YORK (AP) — Casey Mittelstadt scored the tying goal in the third period and got the deciding goal in the shootout to lead the Buffalo Sabres to a 3-2 win over the New York Rangers on Monday night.
JJ Peterka also scored for the Sabres and rookie Devon Levi made 26 saves to beat the Rangers for the second time in 11 days. Buffalo won 3-2 in overtime at home on March 31 in Levi’s first NHL game, and again found a way to beat the Rangers in extra time.
The Sabres are 7-1-1 in their last nine games to keep their slim playoff hopes alive. The victory also gave Buffalo 40 wins in a season for the first time since they won 43 games in 2010- 11. Buffalo has three games left in the next four nights.
“We kept battling and battling and found a way to win,” Mittelstadt said. ”We’re just going to keep playing hard, stick together and keep going.”
Artemi Panarin scored twice for New York and Igor Shesterkin finished with 37 saves. The Rangers have earned points in six straight games (3-0-3) and nine of their last 10 (6-1-3).
New York pulled two points behind first-place Carolina in the Metropolitan Division and one behind second-place New Jersey. The Hurricanes and Devils both have two games remaining, and the Rangers have one.
“He made some real key saves for them You have to give the kid credit,” Rangers coach Gerard Gallant said about the Sabres’ 21-year-old goaltender. ”Fortunately we’re in a good spot. Teams like Buffalo are battling.”
After the first six skaters failed to score in the tiebreaker, Owen Power tallied for Buffalo and Vladimir Tarasenko for the Rangers in the fourth round. Mittelstadt then beat Shesterkin on a backhand with a dazzling move in the fifth round before the Rangers’ Kaapo Kakko failed to convert.
Levi, who recently joined the Sabres out of Northeastern University, improved to 4-1-0. He pumped his fist in exultation and was engulfed by joyous Sabres teammates after the shootout concluded.
“It’s so special to be here with this group of guys,″ said Levi, who denied Patrick Kane, Mika Zibanejad and Panarin in the shootout. “I’m having a blast. I hope we can keep it moving … I just have fun and try to stop pucks. The guys are awesome. I just did my job and came out with the win.”
Panarin scored twice about 10 minutes apart in the second period to give New York a 2-1 lead but Mittelstadt tied it at 8:13 of the third with his 13th of the season. Mittelstadt has 12 points in his last eight games.
After forward Peterka gave the Sabres an early lead with 5 1/2 minutes left in the first, Panarin tied it on a power play 1:01 into the second. He then put the Rangers ahead at 11:12 with his 28th of the season.
Panarin leads the Rangers with 91 points overall. He has points in 15 of his last 22 games — including 10 goals and eight multi-point efforts.
Zibanejad assisted on Panarin’s first goal to reach the 90-point mark for the first time, becoming the third Rangers center since 1982-83 to hit that milestone. Wayne Gretzky and Mark Messier are the other two.
And since 2007-08, only Panarin and Zibanejad have 90 or more points in a season for New York.
“I think it’s awesome,” Gallant added. ”Mika is a smart player and we’ve got a good hockey team.”
STEVEN MCDONALD AWARD
Rugged defenseman Ryan Lindgren was awarded the 2022-23 Steven McDonald Extra Effort Award, an fan-chosen honor to the Rangers player who “goes above and beyond the call of duty.” The 25-year-old Lindgren is in his fifth season with the Rangers. The trophy bears the name of NYPD detective Steven McDonald, who was shot and paralyzed in the line of duty in Central Park in July 1986 and passed away in January 2017.
“It’s a huge honor, what that award represents,″ Lindgren said. ”You think about New York City, you think about the cops. the people that sacrifice … That appreciation, it means a lot. I got chills when I got it.”
The first winner of the award in 1988 was forward Jan Erixon. Adam Graves holds the record with five, Ryan Callahan was a four-time honoree and Mats Zuccarello won it three times.
Each of the last four meetings between the Rangers and Sabres have gone beyond regulation.
Sabres: At New Jersey on Tuesday night.
Rangers: Host Toronto on Thursday night in their regular season finale.
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