NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Sunday, March 7th (All times eastern)
Buffalo Sabres (34-20-9) at New York Rangers (29-28-8), 7 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The Buffalo Sabres hope to put their road woes to an end when the Northeast Division co-leaders pay a visit to historic Madison Square Garden tonight for a matchup with the New York Rangers.
Buffalo heads to the Big Apple having dropped eight straight games as the visitor, with six of those defeats coming in regulation. That matches the longest road losing streak in the franchise's 39 seasons of existence, an 0-5-3 stretch during the 2007-08 campaign.
The Sabres, who are still a respectable 14-12-3 away from home for the season, had also lost eight times in a stretch of nine overall games before downing Philadelphia in overtime on Friday. Tim Connolly scored 2:31 into the extra session to give Buffalo a much-needed 3-2 victory.
Buffalo trailed 2-1 in the third period before Adam Mair scored with 5:58 remaining in regulation. Connolly later put the Sabres ahead to stay when he banked home a rebound of Toni Lydman's shot from the point midway through the extra session.
Both Connolly and Adam Mair finished with a goal and an assist for Buffalo, with Thomas Vanek also lighting the lamp for his 300th career point. Goaltender and United States Olympic hero Ryan Miller did his part as well, stopping 27-of-29 Philadelphia shots on the evening.
"We made improvements in some areas," said Buffalo head coach Lindy Ruff. "We missed a couple great opportunities you wished you put in the back of the net."
The win briefly gave Buffalo a one-point edge on Ottawa for first place in the Northeast, but the Senators pulled even following last night's overtime loss to Toronto.
The Rangers come back home after being shut out by NHL-leading Washington on Saturday, when Capitals goaltender Jose Theodore turned aside all 30 shots he faced to lead his club to a 2-0 verdict.
Alex Auld, claimed by New York off waivers from Dallas earlier this week, made his first start in goal for his new team and ended with 26 saves.
"Coming into a game against this team you're expecting a lot of shots," said Auld. "But I thought we did a good job tonight and it's just unfortunate that we came out on the wrong end."
The Rangers did have leading scorer Marian Gaborik back in the lineup last night, although the star sniper wasn't a factor in his return from a two-game absence due to a groin injury he sustained while competing for Slovakia in the Olympics. Regular netminder Henrik Lundqvist, who racked up a career-high 50 saves in New York's 5-4 overtime loss to Pittsburgh on Thursday, is expected to be back between the pipes after getting Saturday's game off.
The Blueshirts have dropped two in a row following a three-game win streak and sit in a ninth-place tie in the Eastern Conference standings with 66 points, two behind Montreal for the eighth and final playoff seed.
These teams have split two previous meetings this season, with the Sabres earning a 3-2 decision at Madison Square Garden on December 12 behind a 36- save performance from Miller. Buffalo has prevailed in four of the last six overall bouts in the series.
03/07 10:38:24 ET