Buffalo Sabres vs. New York Rangers: Preview and Predictions

Zachary SheldonContributor IFebruary 1, 2012

Ryan Miller will have to play a big role if the Sabres hope to make it two straight out of the break.
Ryan Miller will have to play a big role if the Sabres hope to make it two straight out of the break.

If Lindy Ruff and the Buffalo Sabres hope to make a second-half run, it's safe to say that Tuesday night’s win in Montreal was a lunge in the right direction.

Buffalo got goals from Ville Leino and Paul Gaustad, and Kaleta’s empty-netter secured the win for Ryan Miller, who made 27 saves.

It was a blue-collar win to be sure, one that involved constantly grinding out of the defensive and the neutral zone to keep the Canadiens and Carey Price, who made 37 saves, on their heels.

The Sabres made the right plays when they had to in order to escape with the victory.

There’s no time for backslaps however, as tonight the Sabres will host the first-place New York Rangers, who let a point get away last night against New Jersey.

The Rangers had a 2-1 advantage with six minutes to go and a 3-2 edge with under four minutes remaining, but the team couldn’t escape. A random board carom allowed David Clarkson to score his 17th of the season to force overtime with 48 seconds left on the clock.

The Rangers eventually fell on the losing side of things when Ilya Kovalchuk was the only shooter to find the twine, beating former Sabres Martin Biron in the shootout.  

"We were in total control," coach John Tortorella said, courtesy of AOLSportingNews. "Then, we get a bad bounce. I liked our game. We played good. We'll take the point and go on to Buffalo."

Needless to say, not only will the Rangers come into the First Niagara Center as a hungry first-place team, they’ll most likely also come with "King Henrik" between the pipes.

Lundqvist, who joined Pominville in Ottawa, boasts a GAA and save percentage in the Top 5 in the league. Tonight’s game will be no easy task, despite the Sabres being 4-0-3 in their last seven home games since a December loss to these same Rangers.

Notes: Thomas Vanek left Tuesday’s game in Montreal with an upper body injury and his status for tonight is unclear. It would undoubtedly be a tougher go of it for Buffalo without him, as he leads the team with 19 goals.


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