NEW YORK – J.T. Miller was in the perfect spot in front of the goal to take advantage of a rebound in overtime and keep the New York Rangers perfect in four regular-season outdoor games.
Miller scored a power-play goal 2:43 into the extra period to lift the Rangers to a 3-2 victory over the Buffalo Sabres at Citi Field on Monday in the NHL's 10th Winter Classic.
The Rangers went on the power play 2:15 into overtime when Jacob Josefson was whistled for tripping Jimmy Vesey. On the winning goal, Kevin Shattenkirk fired a shot that rebounded right to Miller, who put it in the net.
“Fortunate to get a good shot to the net,” Miller said. “Not too often they come right on the stick like that.”
Paul Carey and Michael Grabner scored in the first period for the Rangers, who improved to a league-best 4-0 in outdoor games during the season. Henrik Lundqvist stopped 31 shots to help New York improve to 6-2-3 in its last 11 overall.
“We talked about going into this game, there's no way you're going to look back at this as a great memory if you don't win,” said Lundqvist, who is 4-0-0 with a 1.98 goals-against average outdoors. “Now we got a big win and we can always look back at this game as a great experience.”
Rasmus Ristolainen had a goal and an assist, Sam Reinhart also scored and Kyle Okposo had two assists for the Sabres. Robin Lehner finished with 39 saves for Buffalo, which has just 10 wins this season but is 4-3-5 in its last 12 games.
“The first 10 minutes were not very good, we were kind of dipping our toe in,” Okposo said. “Once we calmed down and played our game, we played well. So I'm proud of the guys, proud of the way we played.”
The game, played at the home of baseball's New York Mets, was on the 10th anniversary of the Sabres' 2-1 shootout loss to Pittsburgh in Buffalo in the inaugural Winter Classic. This was also the league's 24th regular-season outdoor game.
Lundqvist made a sensational save on an attempt by Zemgus Girgensons with 2:12 remaining to keep the score tied.
“It was a fun game to play,” Lundqvist said. “Overall, I thought we were the better team, but we took a lot of penalties that put us on our heels a little bit.”
The national anthem was performed by the Every Voice Choirs, a New York City-based group of children born in 2008, the year of the first Winter Classic. The Goo Goo Dolls, a rock band that got their start playing in the Buffalo area, performed during the game's first intermission.
Despite the official temperature at puck drop at 20.5 degrees, the game drew a sellout crowd of 41,821.
“It was loud, the crowd was behind both teams,” Rangers captain Ryan McDonagh said. “It was great for us to find a way to come through in overtime.”
There was a shadow across about half the ice lengthwise at the start of the game. By the middle of the opening period, the shadow was at least partially covering about two-thirds of the ice, with the team benches in sun along the outfield edge and facing where home plate usually sits.
The playing surface was completely in the shade at the start of the second period, except for the side boards to Lehner's right on the first base side of the field.