Tonawanda News — BUFFALO - The Buffalo Sabres came into Friday night's game against the New York Rangers with barely flickering playoff hopes.
By the start of the second period, those hopes were snuffed out.
The Sabres gave up five goals within a span of just under three minutes and ultimately fell to the Rangers, 8-4, at the First Niagara Center in Buffalo. The loss ensures the Sabres will miss the playoffs for the second straight year and the fourth time in six seasons.
"It's hard to put into words, especially with the guys we had," said Sabres forward Drew Stafford of the team's frustration and disappointment. "We were playing well. It looked like we were going to have a hard game but then before you know it we were down 3-0."
New York broke the scoreless tie at the 18:42 mark of the first period when Carl Hagelin took the puck and skated out from behind the Buffalo net. Trying to find teammate Ryan Callahan for the pass, the puck instead banked off the leg of Sabres defenseman Adam Pardy and past goalie Ryan Miller.
Just under a minute later, the Rangers' Brad Richards held the puck outside the face-off circle to the left of Miller, hesitated, then put the puck toward the Buffalo net. Again, the puck struck a Buffalo player, this time Christian Ehrhoff, and again beat Miller on the redirection.
New York wasn't done. With just four seconds remaining in the period, Miller attempted a clearing pass but whiffed on the puck, allowing Ryan Clowe to take it and beat Miller on a backhand shot.
Just 1:13 into the second period, the Rangers struck again as Anton Stralman lifted the visitors to a 4-0 lead and ended Miller's evening. Jhonas Enroth replaced him to loud cheers by the fans but in short time it was clear he would have an equally rough night, surrendering Richards' second goal on his first shot, just 27 seconds after taking over for Miller.