Posted April 19, 2013 on
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The New York Rangers are safe in the knowledge that they control their own fate in the race for a playoff spot.
The Buffalo Sabres can only wish for that kind of luxury.
A regulation win against the Sabres on Friday night would move the visiting Rangers a step closer to a postseason berth while eliminating Buffalo from contention.
New York rebounded from a lackluster 4-2 loss at Philadelphia on Tuesday with a 6-1 win over league-worst Florida on Thursday. Rick Nash had a goal and an assist in the first period for the Rangers (22-17-4), who moved to 6-2-1 in their last nine games and matched a season high in goals.
"It's a huge game,'' Nash said. "We've got to get a win (Friday) night. We'll enjoy this for a couple of hours, then go back to work tomorrow morning.''
Henrik Lundqvist made 34 saves and reached 20 wins for the eighth straight season despite this lockout-shortened, 48-game slate. He has allowed two goals or fewer in 13 of his last 15 starts, posting a 1.68 goals-against average during that span.
The win kept the Rangers tied with Winnipeg for eighth in the Eastern Conference, four points ahead of Buffalo. New York has a game in hand on both teams and can eliminate the Sabres with a win in regulation.
"It's important. We don't need help,'' coach John Tortorella said of the standings. "I think it's an opportunity for some guys to step up. You shouldn't feel the pressure and shy away from it.
"That's the way you need to take it as an individual and as a group.''
Center Derek Stepan had an assist Thursday, giving him five goals and six assists in his last nine games. He has a goal in both meetings against Buffalo this season.
This game is the third of seven straight for the Rangers against teams below them in the standings. That run started against the Flyers and ends with the regular-season finale April 27 versus New Jersey.
Although the Sabres (19-19-6) are chasing New York, they are enjoying one of their best stretches of the season. They've won three straight and six of eight despite a revamped roster due to trades and injuries.
The postseason appeared to be slipping further away with the Sabres trailing the Bruins by a goal in the final minute Wednesday before Cody Hodgson tipped in Thomas Vanek's pass on a power play with 26.6 seconds left. Drew Stafford scored the only shootout goal to lift Buffalo to a 3-2 victory in the first sporting event in Boston since Monday's marathon bombings.
"We have a chance to just write our own story,'' said Ryan Miller, who made 21 of his 41 saves in the third period and overtime. "We have to win our own hockey games and maybe get some help along the way. Tonight we helped ourselves a little bit and we still have games against teams ahead of us (in the standings).''
Hodgson's score gave the Sabres multiple power-play goals in the same game for the first time since a season-opening win over Philadelphia on Jan. 20.
Miller is 8-2-3 with a 1.70 goals-against average in his last 13 starts against the Rangers. He stopped 26 shots in a 3-2 shootout loss at Madison Square Garden on March 3.
Jhonas Enroth was in net for Buffalo's 3-1 home win March 12.
BEST OF MAXIM
AROUND THE WEB
Rick Nash needs to find twine again. Starting tonight.
It’s a game day. It’s the Florida Panthers who always seem to trip up our boys in blue. If ever there was an occasion not to play down to the level of your opponents it’s tonight. Let’s jump into the musings.
Rick Nash needs to be better. The past few games – starting with a few turnovers against the Islanders – he...
Rick Nash had a goal and assist in the first period, and Ryan Callahan had a pair of assists as the New York Rangers hung on to eighth place in the Eastern Conference with a 6-1 victory over the Florida Panthers on Thursday night.
Derick Brassard and Nash both scored power-play goals, with help from Callahan in the first, and Mats Zuccarello found the net for the second straight...
NEW YORK (AP) -- Rick Nash had a goal and assist in the first period, and Ryan Callahan had a pair of assists as the New York Rangers hung on to eighth place in the Eastern Conference with a 6-1 victory over the Florida Panthers on Thursday night.
Derick Brassard and Nash both scored power-play goals, with help from Callahan in the first, and Mats Zuccarello found the net for the...
Andrew Gross at the Bergen Record reports that Brian Boyle is out indefinitely with a lower body injury.
...and Boyle's nightmare season continues.
...time for Stepan, Richards and Brassard to step-up in the faceoff circle.
This injury obviously opens up a huge opportunity for Chris Kreider, who told Katie Strang at ESPN.com that he focused a lot on check-finishing...
For most of this shortened season, things have not been easy for New York Rangers' forward Brad Richards.
For much of this year, Richards struggled in all areas of game whether it was on offense, on the power play, handling the puck, etc. A few times this season, Rangers' head coach John Tortorella even went as far to bench the Rangers' nine-year man.
With that said...
TONIGHT’S GAME: The Rangers will face-off against the Buffalo Sabres tonight at First Niagara Center (7:00 p.m. — TV: MSG Network; Radio: ESPN 98.7), to complete a back-to-back set. The Blueshirts currently rank third in the Atlantic Division standings, and rank eighth in the Eastern Conference, with a record of 22-17-4 (48 pts). The Rangers [...]
After Brad Richards recorded his first career hat trick against the Sabres last night, John Tortorella said this about the alternate captain's struggles this season (via Bergen Record)...
“He’s been good all year as far as his attitude. He’s a pro. He’s been through a lot of ups and downs. He knows more is expected of him. He has still made plays along the way, though...
Former Buffalo Sabres coach Lindy Ruff will be behind Canada's bench for the world hockey championship next month in Stockholm and Helsinki.
Ruff was fired by the Sabres on Feb. 20, ending a 16-year run as the team's coach. He coached Canada to a silver medal in the 2009 world championship and was an associate coach under Mike Babcock on Canada's 2010 gold-medal Olympic...
NEW YORK, April 17, 2013 –New York Rangers President and General Manager Glen Sather announced today that the club has recalled forward Chris Kreider from the Connecticut Whale of the American Hockey League (AHL).
Kreider, 21, has registered one goal and three assists in six games since being assigned to Connecticut on April 3. He has recorded 12 goals and 11 assists for 23...
No player in the Buffalo Sabres room can stand in the pocket and deliver like Steve Ott. Heâs the heart beat and pulse of the Sabres room. After todayâs brief skate at the Northtowns Center, Ott captured the essence and the raw emotions associated with the tragic events that transpired in Boston on Monday. Nearly twelve hours after the Sabres had left Boston, Ott was still...
Tied for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference with only six games remaining, the New York Rangers began their stretch of ‘Must Win’ games against the league worst Florida Panthers at Madison Square Garden on Thursday night. With every game, every period, and every shift so vital right now, Henrik Lundqvist made [...]
Photo by Debby Wong-USA TODAY Sports
This is a must win for the Rangers. They dropped the ball in Philly against what was more or less an AHL defense, and now they desperately need two points against the Panthers. They are still on pace to finish their final ten games at that 6-3-1 pace we determined would be enough to make the playoffs, but they sure are making us sweat for it....
Brad Richards netted a hat trick to power the NY Rangers to an 8-4 win over the reeling Buffalo Sabres. Rick Nash, Carl Hagelin and Ryan Callahan were some of the Rangers’ goal scorers. Cody Hodgson scored his 15th of the season for Buffalo in the loss.
SPIN: The Rangers used an offensive blitz to chase Ryan Miller from the net for Buffalo after he allowed four goals. Jhonas Enroth...
The New York Rangers (23-17-4) defeated the Buffalo Sabres (19-20-6) by the score of 8-4, tonight. For a box score, go to Yahoo! Sports.
...only the Rangers could score 14 goals in two games and not look good doing it. Sort of a strange game with all the deflected goals and terrible goaltending. But as I said yesterday, two points are two points and watch out because not only...
When Milan Lucic peeled away from Patrick Kaleta, passing up a golden opportunity to plaster the Sabres agitator to the sidewall early in the first period of last night’s 3-2 Buffalo shootout win over the Bruins, you knew even strictly from a hockey sense that this game was different.
Unlike as prognosticated, TD Garden wasn’t a hornet’s nest or bear’s den. The Sabres...