Rangers-Sabres Preview

Buffalo failed in its most recent attempt to catch the New York

Rangers in the Eastern Conference. The Sabres have the chance,

firsthand, to get it done in their next contest.

The Sabres look to bounce back from their first regulation

defeat in two weeks Wednesday night when they host a Rangers team

that has earned a point in seven consecutive games.

Buffalo’s 4-3 loss at Toronto on Tuesday not only snapped its

three-game winning streak but kept the eighth-place Sabres

(38-29-9) two points behind seventh-place New York with six games

remaining for both teams. The Rangers are two points back of

sixth-place Montreal.

While the Sabres own a three-point lead over ninth-place

Carolina, they don’t want to blow another opportunity to tie the

Rangers (41-30-5) and better their playoff position.

While Buffalo is 4-1-1 since March 19, New York is 8-1-1 since

losing three in a row Feb. 27-March 3. The Rangers, who have not

lost in regulation since falling 5-2 at Anaheim on March 9, won 6-3

at Buffalo to open the season Oct. 9.

However, Rangers coach John Tortorella simply wants his team to

focus on themselves and not what else is going on in the

standings.

“There’s enough there. Doesn’t matter what team,” Tortorella

told the Rangers’ official website. “I know everybody is concerned

about the standings, but we can only worry about us.”

Henrik Lundqvist has done his part to keep the Rangers focused,

stopping 77 of 78 shots and posting two shutouts while winning two

of the last three games. He made 26 saves in a 1-0 win at Boston on

Saturday for his league-leading 11th shutout.

“He’s going to have to be like that for us if we’re going to

continue,” Tortorella said. “He has stepped up his play when we

needed him.”

That’s because New York has scored one goal in each of those

last three contests. Brandon Dubinsky, Brandon Prust and rookie

Derek Stepan have provided all the scoring for the Rangers during

that span.

The Rangers, however, have totaled 11 goals while winning two of

three against the Sabres this season. Stepan recorded a hat trick

in his NHL debut in the season opener, but has been held without a

point in the teams’ last two meetings.

Lundqvist has allowed three goals in each game while splitting

his two starts against the Sabres this season. He has won two of

his last three at Buffalo

Sabres star Ryan Miller could get the chance to bounce back

after giving up two more goals Tuesday than he did in his previous

three starts combined.

“I had a chance to set the tone on my end and didn’t do it,”

Miller said of his effort at Toronto. “It just kind of went from

there.”

Miller is 1-1-0 with a 3.55 goals-against average versus New

York in 2010-11. He made 29 saves in a 3-2 win at New York in the

teams’ last meeting March 1.

Thomas Vanek has a goal in each of Buffalo’s last two games, but

has been held without one the last eight against the Rangers.