The Buffalo Sabres will look to push their win streak to four games this evening as they take on the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden. Buffalo is coming off a gritty shoot out victory over the Florida Panthers Saturday afternoon(4-3) in front of a crowd of over 19,000 at the First Niagara Center.
The victory over the Panthers moves the Sabres( 9-12-1) to within one point of the 10th place Rangers( 9-8-2) and only 4 points behind the 8th place Flyers( 11-11-1) in the Eastern Conference.
The battle against the Rangers this evening starts a crucial four game road trip for the Sabres and can give a good indication on how the rest of the season could play out. With stops in Carolina, New Jersey, and Philadelphia ( all catchable teams in the conference), the Sabres could find themselves in the mix of a playoff birth or back near the bottom of the league.
The New York Rangers are winners of only one game in their last five, but after getting top forward Rick Nash back in the line up for last Thursday’s contest vs. Tampa Bay, the team snapped their four game skid with a 4-1 victory. Along with Nash, Brad Richards and Marion Gaborik lead the way offensively for the Rangers.
A major key in tonight’s contest will be special teams play, especially when the Sabres are on the power play. The Rangers have killed 27 of the last 29 short handed situations they have been in, helping secure the 10th spot in the league in that category. The Sabres are 30th in the league with the man advantage while the Rangers are 29th, so which ever team comes up with the answers on special teams could have a distinct advantage in tonight’s game.
Last season the Rangers handled the Sabres fairly easy coming up with victories in three out of the four games. This evenings game marks the first of three on the year and is scheduled for a 7:30 start on MSG.