NEW YORK (AP) — Chris Kreider scored 2:28 into overtime, Igor Shesterkin made 27 saves and the New York Rangers beat the Buffalo Sabres 4-3 on Saturday night.
Kreider picked up his 17th goal of the season after Shesterkin denied Buffalo’s Casey Mittlestadt on a breakaway. Kreider also had an assist, giving him five in his last three games.
On the winning play, Mika Zibanejad curled behind the Sabres net before backhanding the puck to Kreider in the slot.
“I looked up and Kreids was basically in the net,” Zibanejad said. ”It was easy to make the play to him.”
Zibanejad had a goal and two assists as New York won for the 15th time in its last 21 games against Buffalo. Artemi Panarin and Ryan Lindgren also scored for the Rangers.
Zibanejad snapped a 2-2 tie with his 13th goal 7:13 into the second period. Zibanejad has seven goals and six assists during a seven-game point streak.
But Mittlestadt scored his ninth 6:50 into the third. Mittelstadt has 13 points, including four goals, in his last 11 games against the Rangers.
The Rangers’ Barclay Goodrow was called for high-sticking at 17:09 of the third, and Buffalo’s Rasmus Dahlin was sent off for hooking Zibanejad at 18:46. But both teams came up empty on the ensuing power plays.
The Rangers entered their holiday break with a 23-8-1 record. They lead the NHL in wins and are tied for first in points with 47.
“It’s nice to finish up with a win,” Zibanejad said. “We’ve put ourselves in a good spot. It’s a lot nicer going into a break with a win.”
Lindgren and Panarin scored in the first period, but Buffalo rallied on goals by Dahlin late in the first and Jack Quinn early in the second.
“A very good effort in a great atmosphere tonight,” Sabres coach Don Granato said. ”We had to come back, we had to fight, we had to scratch. I thought our guys did a great job with it. We had some very good chances in overtime.”
Lindgren opened the scoring at 7:19, beating Sabres goalie Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen with a long shot through traffic for his second goal of the season.
Panarin made it 2-0 on a power play at 15:35, scoring his team-leading 18th on the season. He has a point in 26 of 32 games this season.
Dahlin got his 10th goal 16:37 into the first, scoring for the third straight game. Quinn’s goal came at 1:42 of the second.
The Rangers were coming off a 4-3 home loss to Edmonton on Friday. They improved to 5-0 in the second half of back-to-backs.
“There was a lot of resiliency tonight,” Rangers coach Peter Laviolette said. ”It was a good game. Buffalo played hard. They are a really good offensive team.”
The Sabres routed the Maple Leafs 9-3 at home on Thursday after losing 9-4 at home to Columbus on Tuesday. The Sabres are 14-17-4 overall, seventh in the Atlantic Division. Buffalo hasn’t reached the postseason since 2010-11.
The 24-year-old Luukkonen made 29 saves. Granato said he was impressed with his young goaltender’s play.
“Every day is experience gained,” Granato said. “He has been doing that consistently.”