Sabres snap Bruins streak, Alexis Lafrenière leads Rangers, and more NHL action

rasmus dahlin contract
Apr 23, 2021; Buffalo, New York, USA; Buffalo Sabres center Sam Reinhart (23) celebrates his goal with defenseman Rasmus Dahlin (26) during the first period against the Boston Bruins at KeyBank Center. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

The Buffalo Sabres are still not a very good hockey team. They lost key players via trade or injury but Don Granato has them playing their best hockey all season. As the interim head coach tries to make his status permanent, Sam Reinhart notched a hat trick to stop the Boston Bruins win streak at six games.

Buffalo Sabres Sam Reinhart’s big night

A rookie goalie by the fancy name of Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen made 36 saves in his NHL debut to defeat the Boston Bruins. Things got hairy for the Sabres in the third period after they built a 4-1 lead. Boston scored three straight goals to cut it to 5-4, including one from former Sabre Taylor Hall. But it was Sam Reinhart who capped the scoring with his third of the night and 20th of the season to get his new coach the win.

“I was very happy and impressed with our guys,” Buffalo coach Don Granato said. “We played with a lot of frustration yesterday (a 5-1 loss), specifically on the power play, and I thought that carried over into our 5-on-5 game, that frustration. We could have late in the game, but the chatter on the bench was outstanding, the posture of the guys on the bench. Just listening to them speak after we gave up a couple goals and it was close, very commanding voices in initiative taking responses by them. So, that was very nice to see as far as the psychology of it goes.”

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Alexis Lafrenière’s multi point game lifts New York Rangers

Alexis Lafrenière
Apr 23, 2021; New York, New York, USA; Alexis Lafreniere #13 of the New York Rangers celebrates his goal against the Philadelphia Flyers at 9:24 of the third period at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Bennett/POOL PHOTOS-USA TODAY Sports

Hold off the elimination ceremony just a bit longer for the New York Rangers. After losing two straight, 19 year-old rookie Alexis Lafrenière picked up two points to lead the Blueshirts to a 4-1 win over the Philadelphia Flyers. For the first overall pick of the 2020 NHL draft he now has 16 points on the season and his first points on the Rangers new top line with Mika Zibanejad and Pavel Buchnevich.

“I think we’re three players that have great vision, so I think we’re moving the puck well,” Lafreniere said. “We’ll still try to learn how to play together, and it’s getting better.” 

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The Rangers win combined with the Bruins loss has the point gap to six points. It will be a near impossible road for them to catch Boston but they are still in the hunt.

NHL fourth place battles continue league wide

The Nashville Predators came up big by defeating the Chicago Blackhawks last night 3-1. Juuse Saros made 29 save to keep the Preds in the Central’s last playoff spot. They are up four points over the Dallas Stars who have three games in hand so the win was needed. As for the Hawks, they lost the season series to Nashville 0-7-1 and are five points back.

In the North Division, the Flames had to cancel the morning skate when one player tested positive for COVID-19. However, the contest against the Canadiens went on as scheduled and they came up with a big 4-2 win. Sean Monahan broke a third period tie and led the way offensively with a goal and two helpers. Calgary is now six points behind Montreal for final playoff spot.

Finally, the Wild beat the Kings 4-2. The hands down favorite to win rookie of the year, Kirill Kaprizov scored twice and now has 21 goals on the year.