BUFFALO — Antti Raanta made it home in time.
The Rangers backup goaltender arrived here with the team Wednesday and then flew back to Manhattan on Thursday morning to be with his wife, Anna. Together they welcomed their first child, a daughter named Evelyn.
Magnus Hellberg was summoned from AHL Hartford, and although he didn’t arrive for the morning skate, he dressed as Henrik Lundqvist’s backup against the Sabres.
While packing his gear in Greenburgh after practice Wed nesday, Raanta was asked about staying focused with the baby on the way. He said he was able to do that once he got to the rink. “I just hope we can get through the trip,” he said with a grin.
Pirri takes blame
Forward Brandon Pirri, a healthy scratch for the first time in 17 games, blamed himself for the team’s recent 1-for-17 power play.
“I understand that’s kind of my role,” the winger-turned- center said. “I’ve got to make the power plays count, and we’ve been struggling as a group. It’s frustrating. I take responsibility . . . Teams are being real aggressive on the penalty kills. We’ve got to move the puck rather than skate around, and for me, start shooting again, get pucks on net and cause a little mayhem in front . . . We just kind of went dry. It’s got to start working if I want to play.”
Pirri also said that as a center, his line seemed to get scored on “every time we make a mistake.”
Coach Alain Vigneault said the decision was based on more than the power play. “There’s more defensive responsibilities, plays that you need to make with the puck,” he said. “Pirs has been useful so far this year, but we felt this lineup gave us the best chance to win tonight.”
Oscar Lindberg stepped in as the fourth-line center.