NEW YORK — Ryan Strome scored his first two goals this season and Henrik Lundqvist made 31 saves as New York snapped a five-game losing streak with a 5-2 victory over the Buffalo Sabres on Thursday night.
The Rangers have been struggling since opening the season with two wins, followed by five defeats — the most recent in overtime to the Arizona Coyotes on Tuesday. Against the resurgent Sabres, who had eight wins in their first 10 games, the Rangers came out with pace and received goals from Artemi Panarin, Brett Howden and Strome in the opening period.
Panarin, who signed a seven-year $81.5 million free agent contract last July, started the scoring with an unassisted goal at 11:41. Panarin corralled a loose puck along the right boards before swooping in and beating Sabres goaltender Carter Hutton for his fifth goal of the season. Panarin has points in last three games and five of the team’s eight contests this season.
Howden made it 2-0 when he tapped the puck past Hutton at 14:32 for his second goal this season. Strome added to the lead with a tip-in at 19:22 with assists to
The Rangers held a 10-7 shots advantage after the first period but the Sabres had the better of play in the second, outshooting the home team 15-4.
Buffalo’s Vladimir Sobotka narrowed the deficit to 4-2 when he scored at 19:11 of the second, beating Lundqvist for his first goal this season. Kyle Okposo and Marcus Johansson registered assists.
The teams traded chances in the third until Strome extended the lead to 5-2 with this second goal of the night, completing a two-on-one with Howden at 7:57 as the teams skated four-on-four.
Chris Kreider completed the scoring with his first of the season at 18:44 of the third.
Rangers coach David Quinn continued reshuffling lines in search of new combinations as the season evolves. Against the Sabres, Quinn had Panarin alongside Strome and Buchnevich while heralded rookie right wing Kaapo Kakko was on a line with
The loss was the first for Hutton after six wins and starts this season as the Sabres fell to 1-5-2 in their last eight meetings with the Rangers.
With his 451st career win, Lundqvist moved to within three victories of Curtis Joseph for fifth place on the all-time list. The 37-year-old Swedish netminder also made his 862nd career appearance, passing Jean Ratelle for sixth-most appearances as a Ranger.
NOTES: The Rangers are 16-4-0 against Buffalo since Apr. 19, 2013 . The teams will meet Feb. 7 in New York and March 22 in Buffalo . The Rangers scratched forward Micheal Haley . The Sabres scratched forward Evan Rodrigues and
Rangers: Host Boston Bruins on Sunday night.
Sabres: Visit Detroit Red Wings on Friday night.
Allan Kreda, The Associated Press