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Wednesday, March 31st (All times eastern)

Buffalo Sabres (36-32-7-4) at New York Rangers (26-39-7-8), 7:30 p.m.

(Sports Network) - The Buffalo Sabres continue their desperate crusade for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference tonight when they visit the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden.

With 83 points and three games remaining, the Sabres are three behind the New York Islanders for the eighth spot. New York will host Montreal this evening, and can clinch with a win and a Sabres loss.

On Monday, Dmitri Kalinin posted the first two-goal game of his career and Martin Biron made 23 saves, helping the Sabres to a 6-0 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets at HSBC Arena.

Biron recorded his second shutout of the season for Buffalo, which remained unbeaten in its last five contests overall (4-0-1). Derek Roy and Maxim Afinogenov each had a goal and an assist in the win.

Buffalo dominated from the start, applying relentless pressure on Fred Brathwaite and Columbus. The domination eventually paid off when Kalinin scored his first goal just 6:07 into the game. Roy added another goal just 2:09 later and Buffalo cruised to the victory.

Jochen Hecht added an assist and now has six goals and 10 helpers in his last 11 games.

The Sabres will host Toronto on Friday before visiting Montreal the following night to close the regular season.

The Rangers, meanwhile, have lost nine of their last 10 games. Following Saturday's 3-1 win in Philadelphia, they fell 5-0 to host New Jersey on Tuesday. Scott Gomez and Erik Rasmussen each scored twice to lead the Devils.

Coming off a 38-save performance in the win over Philly on Saturday, young goaltender Stephen Valiquette looked shaky, allowing five goals on 31 shots for the Rangers, who fell to 1-6-0-3 in their last 10 tries.

New York, of course, is on its way to a seventh consecutive spring out of the playoffs. The Blueshirts haven't tasted postseason play since 1997, when they advanced to the conference finals.

Tonight's game could be Mark Messier's last at Madison Square Garden, as he could retire after the season. The 43-year-old captain, who has missed the last two games with an elbow injury, was originally traded to the team in 1991 and helped the Blueshirts end a 54-year Stanley Cup drought in 1994. He left the team in 1997, but returned in 2000 after three seasons in Vancouver.

The Rangers will visit Washington on Saturday to finish their season.

Buffalo is 2-1 against New York this campaign, and is 4-2-1 in the last seven meetings overall.

03/31 11:35:38 ET


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