NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Saturday, December 12th (All times eastern)
Buffalo Sabres (18-9-2) at New York Rangers (14-14-2), 7 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The struggling New York Rangers will try to avoid a third consecutive loss when they welcome the Buffalo Sabres for tonight's Empire State battle at Madison Square Garden.
The Rangers have dropped two straight and five of their last six games, but were able to claim a point in Wednesday's overtime setback in Chicago. All told, New York has won just seven games (7-13-2) since beginning the season with a 7-1-0 mark.
The Blueshirts lost a 2-1 decision in the Windy City when Dustin Byfuglien scored at 3:43 of OT to send the Blackhawks to victory at the United Center.
Chris Higgins picked up the lone score for the Rangers, who led for most of the game until Jonathan Toews sent the game to OT with his power-play tally late in the third period. Henrik Lundqvist was the hard-luck loser, making 39 stops.
"You hang in there for the whole time, try to play smart and battle and try to get two points," said a dejected Lundqvist. "But you had those couple calls in there late and it changed the game."
Tonight marks the start of a three-game homestand for the Rangers, who are 7-7-0 in the Big Apple, but have dropped five of their last six tests at MSG.
The Sabres, meanwhile, will try to record their third straight victory when they take the ice tonight. Buffalo is coming off home wins over Washington and Chicago and is kicking off a three-game road trip this evening.
Thomas Vanek and Clarke MacArthur each scored their ninth goal of the season, to lead the Sabres to the 2-1 victory over the Blackhawks on Friday night.
Patrick Lalime, making just his third start of the season for Buffalo and first since surrendering five goals at Ottawa on November 21, turned away 39 shots to notch his first win since March 12, 2009 against Florida.
"For a 2-1 game, I thought it was a real exciting game. There was a lot of action and good saves," said Buffalo head coach Lindy Ruff.
Ryan Miller, who leads the NHL with a 1.82 goals-against average and a .938 save percentage, is expected to return to his starting role tonight.
Sabres forward Mike Grier could return tonight after missing the last three games to be with his family following the death of his mother. Grier has five goals and two assists in 21 games with the Sabres this year.
Buffalo is 7-4-0 as the guest this year and is aiming for its third straight road victory tonight.
The Rangers recorded a 2-1 regulation win in Buffalo earlier this month and the Blueshirts have won six of nine in the series overall. The Sabres have also dropped three of their last four games in NYC.
12/12 10:47:35 ET