Rangers-Sabres Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated December 10, 2011
One of the keys to the New York Rangers' success this season has been their ability to avoid losing streaks. They'll have an opportunity to do that again Saturday night when they visit the Buffalo Sabres looking to prevent their first three-game skid since the opening week of the season. Since starting 0-1-2 - with two of those games in Europe - the Rangers (15-6-4) have been among the league's best teams. They had won 12 of 14 before dropping their last two games, including Thursday's 3-2 shootout defeat to Tampa Bay. "We had a pretty good week, we just came up short in two games," goaltender Henrik Lundqvist told the team's official website. "We have two big games this weekend and we need to do whatever it takes to get back on a winning streak." After facing the Sabres, the Rangers host Florida on Sunday night. New York's next win will make it the fifth NHL franchise with 2,500. Chicago is the only other Original Six team yet to reach the mark. Brad Richards picked up an assist Thursday, giving him four goals and seven assists during a seven-game point streak. He has nine goals and 10 assists in his last 17 contests. "They have a fast team, it's always a tough building to play in so they'll be ready to go," Richards said of the Sabres. Because Lundqvist has lost five of his past six starts versus the Sabres (15-11-2), Rangers coach John Tortorella could start Martin Biron against one of the backup goalie's former teams. Biron, who sports a 1.94 goals-against average this season, is 8-3-1 with a 2.82 GAA lifetime against Buffalo, where he spent his first eight-plus seasons. Jason Pominville's overtime goal gave the Sabres a 2-1 win over Florida on Friday and prevented a fourth straight home loss. "It wasn't a pretty one, but we got it done against a team that was going really well," Pominville said. Derek Roy also scored for Buffalo, which improved to 6-8-2 at home, not including a season-opening "home" win over Anaheim in Helsinki. Few teams have been hit harder by injuries than the Sabres, who have had eight players - including goalie Ryan Miller - miss six or more games. Cody McCormick and defenseman Jordan Leopold returned Friday, but left wing Nathan Gerbe sat out after sustaining a concussion Wednesday against Philadelphia. Ville Leino served his one-game suspension for elbowing Flyers rookie Matt Read. Forward Corey Tropp could be the latest added to the lengthy injury list. The rookie left during the first period after absorbing an open-ice hit and the Sabres said Tropp has an upper-body injury. Playing without so many regulars has hindered Buffalo's offense, which has scored two goals or fewer in six of 10 games. The Sabres' power play is 2 for 25 in the past seven contests. This is Buffalo's eighth of a league-high 21 sets of back-to-back games this season. The Sabres are 5-3-0 in the first game and 5-2-0 in the second. Coach Lindy Ruff could start Miller, who made 22 saves Friday, for the third time in four nights or switch to backup Jhonas Enroth. Miller is 7-2-0 with a 1.83 GAA in his last nine games against the Rangers, while Enroth is 1-0-1 with a 1.48 GAA in two career matchups. Buffalo is 5-1-1 in its last seven meetings with New York.
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