There is no better way for a team to avenge a heartbreaking loss than to get right back at it the next night. That's what the New York Rangers will do Wednesday (7:30 p.m. EST, NBCSN) at the Buffalo Sabres.
Even after seeing three of their leads disappear against the Devils, the Blueshirts were less than a minute away from putting together their third straight win. Only a lucky bounce on a dump-in that went straight to David Clarkson in the slot -- let's emphasize this: there was nothing any Ranger could do on the play -- essentially ended New York's hopes for a win. With nine wins in shootouts, the Devils have proven they're the best in that (coin-flip) situation; the Rangers couldn't score in overtime, and the skills competition was how this one was decided. Unfortunate, but the Blueshirts have to like that for the most part they put together a solid effort.
Wednesday, the Rangers will face a a 47-point team that is two points from being the Eastern Conference's worst. The Sabres began the post-All-Star break with a 3-1 win over the Montreal Canadiens on the road. Mathematically, they're a long shot, but certainly not out of the playoff race ... and if they want any chance as the weeks roll along, they'll need goalie Ryan Miller to be the world-class talent that he is. Tuesday, he was, making 27 saves. But for the majority of the season, he has mirrored (or vice versa) the Sabres' play with a 2.99 goals-against average and .901 save percentage. Buffalo ranks 25th in goals scored, but good goaltending always gives teams chances.
Jason Pominville leads the team with 47 points and Tomas Vanek has the lead in goals with 19 (and 40 points). Those two are the only players with more than 25 points.
New York has a good chance to get back on the winning track before a weekend tilt with the Philadelphia Flyers. They need other forwards to continue to step up to give Marian Gaborik (25 goals, 39 points) some support. The Blueshirts are an excellent team at this point of the year because of their goaltending and defense. They merely score just enough to get by -- more offensive contributions puts them into a truly no-questions-asked elite status. A power play that has one goal in 10 games and ranks 25th in the league has not done them any favors. Henrik Lundqvist will be back in net, as he looks to continue his Vezina Trophy-worthy campaign.
The Blueshirts won the only meeting so far this year, in Buffalo on Dec. 10, 4-1.
New York Rangers
@ Buffalo Sabres
Wednesday, Feb 1, 2012, 7:30 PM EST
First Niagara Center
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