Vitali Kravtsov made his NHL debut Saturday night in Buffalo, another piece in the Rangers rebuilding puzzle that fits in his place.
Artemi Panarin, who signed the biggest contract in franchise history less than two years ago to accelerate rebuilding, showed the highly anticipated prospect how it’s done, scoring two goals.
But a goal by the Sabers late in the third period for the second game in a row tied the score, ruining what could have been a storybook start for the Rangers’ future forwards, in a 3-2 loss at KeyBank. Center.
The Rangers held a small one-goal lead with 3:41 left in regulation time when Victor Olofsson tied 2-2, sending both teams into overtime again after playing the overtime period on Thursday (which ended with a victory of the Rangers 3-2). ).
After both teams failed to score in the extra period, the Rangers were unable to beat Sabers goalkeeper Linus Ullmark on penalties.
However, Tage Thompson of the Sabers scored on Igor Shesterkin to give Buffalo its second win in three games after a streak of 18 straight losses.
“At this point in the season, you need to win. You can’t get a point, ”Rangers head coach David Quinn said of leaving Buffalo with three points instead of four. “Obviously we all look at the scores within our division because it is a unique year, but we have to make sure we correct some of the things that we did not do well.
Despite the loss, Kravtsov’s debut gave the Rangers youth movement another addition, and the lineup now has five of the Blueshirts’ first-round picks from the last four NHL drafts: 2017’s Filip Chytil, K’Andre Miller and Kravtsov from 2018. Kaapo Kakko from 2019 and Alexis Lafreniere from 2020.
The average age of the Rangers’ active roster is now 25.2 years old. Is it necessary to point out more that they have the youngest team in the league?
Kravtsov placed himself in the third line of the Rangers, which gave a whole new meaning to what is commonly known as the children’s line. Along with Lafreniere (19) and Chytil (21), the 21-year-old winger logged 10:45 of ice time, with three shots on goal.
“Obviously he is a very good player. I was a bit nervous at the beginning, I didn’t play to make mistakes, but I also played for the team, ”said Panarin. “I had a very good chance at the end, and we are very happy to have such a good player in the team.”
Not all NHL debuts can be special, but Kravtsov’s presence made it that way for the Rangers. And when he nearly won the game with a dive shot shortly after the Sabers’ tying mark, it was almost a dream debut. After Kravtsov’s five-game preseason cameo last year, in which he recorded a goal and an assist, the Russian native has now shown that he is ready for the NHL.
The Rangers, after a hyperactive start to the first period, slowed things down on the power game when Sabers forward Taylor Hall went to the area on interference. Panarin scored the Rangers’ first goal in the past two games with a sharp angled shot that deflected from Ullmark for a 1-0 lead.
But Casey Mittelstadt tied it less than three minutes later, converting a 2-on-1 with a wicked wrister who beat Shesterkin on the stick side.
The Rangers won the title after Panarin scored his second goal of the night, a time that outstripped Ullmark with just over two minutes in the second to regain the lead. The Sabers challenged offside but lost and were forced to take the penalty to end the period.
From rebuild to rebuild, Buffalo managed to steal the show once again late in the game. But the Rangers are getting closer to their finished product.
“Obviously, it is exciting for our organization. We have these young players playing regular minutes right now, ”Quinn said. “But I don’t think many of us are thinking about that right now. We are thinking about the fact that we could not score two points ”.