It's finally happened.
The New York Rangers have officially moved away from a team looking behind to a team that can also start looking forward. No, the Rangers have not clinched a playoff spot, although they are close. But New York has found a way to get back into contention with the six-seeded Montreal Canadiens, sitting only two points back of Montreal with a game in hand.
That does not, however, lessen tonight's potentially game-changing matchup with the Buffalo Sabres.
The Rangers currently find themselves in seventh place, just two points clear of eighth place Buffalo (although both teams have the same number of games played). They call these types of games "four-point games," since a win not only pushes you up two points but it also forces the other team to take a loss.
Just because the Rangers can finally look ahead to Montreal doesn't mean they can completely ignore who is behind them.
The Carolina Hurricanes are just five points back with the same number of games played. And while that number seems small now, another loss could be catastrophic to Carolina's chances.
But for tonight, the Rangers need to focus on the Sabres, in a matchup featuring two of the premier goalies in the league. Henrik Lundqvist, who is expected to start tonight, recorded his league-leading 11th shutout on Sunday in a 1-0 victory over the Boston Bruins.
Ryan Miller has always been a star in the NHL, and he's had his share of "Ranger killer" moments. The Rangers are hoping to avoid that tonight.
A win would not only give the Rangers a vital two points in the standings, but it would also do wonders for the atmosphere in the locker room as well.
More when we have it.