New York Rangers vs. Buffalo Sabres, 7:00 PM at Madison Square Garden
Where To Watch: MSG Network
Where To Listen: 1050 ESPN Radio
Live In-Game Chat: 6:45 PM on BlueshirtsUnited.com
Coming off a series of games in which John Tortorella has termed his team's play "sloppy", the Rangers (38-15-6, 82 pts) look to put their game back togather this evening when they host the Buffalo Sabres (27-27-7, 61 pts) at The Garden. The Rangers fell behind early Friday night against the Islanders, and twice trailed by two goals before rallying to force overtime, where they eventually lost in a shootout 4-3. The loss---albeit an overtime one in which they still earned a point in the standings---gives the Blueshirts back-to-back defeats for the first time since December 13 and 15, a remarkable span of more than two months. The Rangers have lost two games in a row only six times this season, with their longest winless streak standing at three games. That stretch, ironically, came in the first three games of the season when the Blueshirts went 0-1-2. With the point they earned last night, the Rangers actually did increase their lead in the Eastern Conference to seven points over Boston, which lost last night. The Blueshirts lead in the Atlantic Division now stands at eight points as the second-place Devils also lost in regulation last night. The Sabres invade The Garden tonight riding their second three-game winning streak in the month of February. This past week Buffalo knocked off the Penguins 6-2 and the Islanders 2-1 before upending the Bruins 2-1 in a shootout. A win this evening would equal Buffalo's longest a win streak of the season, a four-game run that took place back in November. With their recent surge the Sabres now sit in 11th place in the East, only five points out of the eighth and final playoff spot.
This is the third of four meetings between the Rangers and Sabres this season, and the first at Madison Square Garden. Most recently Henrik Lundqvist dazzled for the Rangers in a 1-0 shootout, shutout victory on February 1st up in Buffalo. Prior to that the Rangers scored a pair of shorthanded goals en-route to a 4-1 road victory over the Sabres on December 10th. Seven of the last ten meetings between these teams have been decided by one goal.
"The only way to get out of this is if you try and get better every day, and demand more out of yourself and demand more out of the team as a whole. I think that's how you get better. We need to do that. We've talked about what it is to be a Ranger, kind of what our team is made of. We need to get back to that."-Brian Boyle
By The Numbers
By scoring a pair of power play goals last night the Rangers up-and-down power play now has seven man-advantage goals in the previous 8 games, connecting at a 23.3% success rate. The Blueshirts have had a pair of multi-power play goal efforts in the past six contests, their only such efforts since December 11th.
Sabres goalie Ryan Miller has had an uneven season so far in 2011-12, but he is in the midst of an extremely strong week, including stopping 35 of 36 shots in last night's 2-1 overtime shootout win over Boston. In three victories this week Miller has faced 93 shots and allowed only four goals, a major reason why the Sabres have won all three contests.
So who's going to win this Saturday night showdown at The Garden? Share your prediction below.