Sabres-Rangers Preview

After a successful southern road swing began their current run,

the Buffalo Sabres hope to stay hot at the beginning of an even

longer trip.

The Sabres will try to extend their longest winning streak of

the season on Sunday night as they open a four-game trek against

the New York Rangers, who snapped their four-game skid in Rick

Nash’s return.

Buffalo lost a season-worst four in a row – including its first

two under interim coach Ron Rolston after Lindy Ruff was fired –

before starting its turnaround with a win at Tampa Bay on Feb. 26

and then topping Florida 4-3 in a shootout on Thursday.

The Sabres (9-12-1) beat visiting New Jersey by the same score

in the tiebreaker on Saturday for their first three-game winning

streak since capturing five straight last March 19-27.

“It certainly feels better to win. But we’ve got a lot of

work,” goalie Ryan Miller said. “I don’t want anybody in this room

or organization to get comfortable.”

Jason Pominville had one goal in his previous 11 games before

scoring twice against the Devils. Cody Hodgson added two assists,

while Jochen Hecht ended a 32-game drought with his first goal of

the season.

Leading scorer Thomas Vanek missed the contest with an

upper-body injury, but is expected to play against the Rangers.

Vanek, however, has one goal in his last nine games overall and one

in his last 12 in this series.

The Sabres have also received almost zero production recently

from their power play, converting 3 of 54 opportunities in their

last 15 games. It isn’t likely to get any easier against a New York

team that has killed 27 of 29 penalties over its last 10.

Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist finished with 24 saves and won

for the first time in four starts in a 4-1 victory over Tampa Bay

on Thursday. Lundqvist, though, has lost four of five home starts

with a 2.78 goals-against average against the Sabres.

It hardly seems like a coincidence the Rangers stopped their

skid as soon as Nash returned to the lineup. He finished with a

goal and an assist on a career-high 12 shots against the

Lightning.

New York (9-8-2) went 0-3-1 in the four games Nash was out with

what was believed to be concussion-like symptoms.

The Rangers averaged 27.3 shots in the four games without Nash,

but have averaged 40.3 in the last three the star forward has

played. Nash, who ranks among the NHL leaders with 4.6 shots per

game, had six goals in his last seven games against the Sabres

while he was with Columbus.

“We have to get streaky,” Nash said. “I think if we just build

momentum off (this win) and carry it into the next one … we were

doing a lot of good things, so I think we’ll be fine.”

Carl Hagelin, who is tied for the team lead with seven goals,

and Derek Stepan also scored against the Lightning. Defenseman Marc

Staal added only the eighth power-play goal in 67 chances for the

Rangers.

Even though they’re finishing back-to-back games, the Sabres

could start Miller again on Sunday. Miller, who won his third

straight start on Saturday, is 1-2-0 with a 2.35 GAA at the end of

back-to-backs this season.

Miller is also 5-0-1 with a 1.64 GAA in his last six trips to

Madison Square Garden.

His most recent there was a 4-1 victory on March 23, Buffalo’s

only win in last season’s series as the Rangers took three of

four.