Rangers overcome Lehner, Sabres in 2018 Winter Classic


If you’ve been following the NHL for the last couple decades, you’ve probably gotten used to the New York Rangers’ distinct goal song. It was essentially Chelsea Dagger before Chelsea Dagger. The Rangers provided their fans an opportunity to put a new twist on that goal song during the 2018 Winter Classic, though.

The Rangers put themselves in some tough spots against the Buffalo Sabres when it came to taking penalties early on during Monday’s bitterly cold outdoor game, so perhaps it’s fitting that they ended up winning in overtime thanks to a J.T. Miller overtime goal, taking it 3-2.

Rangers fans then serenaded their winning team by joining in on the goal song, making for a cool scene at Citi Field, home of the New York Mets.

The Rangers took a 2-0 lead through the first period, yet Robin Lehner made a host of big, difficult saves to keep the Sabres in the game, and Buffalo was able to chip away to ultimately push the game to overtime at 2-2.

Lehner stopped 39 out of 42 shots on goal, but Henrik Lundqvist continues to get the job done in outdoor games, making 31 saves to win this one. Lundqvist and the Rangers aren’t just experienced with outdoor contests, they’ve been able to clean up amid unusual conditions.

After the contest, Henrik Lundqvist discussed the win, and kept things mysterious regarding how he’s tweaked his style both “technically” and mentally.

The frustrations continue for Buffalo, although it’s worth noting that the Sabres are at least making baby steps in the right direction. Sabres head coach Phil Housley backed that notion up after the game.

“I’m proud of our guys,” Housley said. “We battled back. We’ve been through tough times. We’re playing a better brand of hockey right now.”

As much of an event as the 2018 Winter Classic is, the Rangers could use every standings point they can get, so managing a victory here is a big boost in the bitter battles for Metropolitan Division positioning.

Plenty was said about the cold weather, but grabbing a W had to warm the hearts of Rangers players and their fans to kick off 2018.

(Note: multiple Rangers players said that the cold didn’t bother them, for what it’s worth. The fans might not have been so lucky.)

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.