(Sports Network) - A victory on Friday night would give the New York Rangers
sole possession of the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern
Conference. It would also end the Buffalo Sabres' desperate pursuit of a
The two teams get together on Friday night in western New York.
The Rangers and Winnipeg Jets are tied in the standings with 48 points, but
New York holds the current tiebreaker -- and eighth place -- due to having
played one fewer game. The Rangers have five games left in the regular season
to the Jets' four and Winnipeg is idle tonight.
The Sabres, meanwhile, are four points back of eighth place and also have just
four games left. A regulation loss to the Rangers tonight would eliminate
Buffalo in the playoff race.
New York has kept itself in the driver's seat by going 6-2-1 in its last nine
games. The Rangers picked up a big victory on Thursday night, besting the
Florida Panthers 6-1 behind two goals each from Mats Zuccarello and Derick
Rick Nash added a goal and two assists and Brad Richards also scored and
assisted on another goal for the Rangers, who are three points behind the
seventh-place New York Islanders with a game in hand. Henrik Lundqvist came up
with 34 saves in the win.
"We just made plays tonight," Brassard remarked. "We played a fast game and we
just executed and guys finished. It's a big win and a big two points for us."
Forward Brian Boyle missed the game due to a leg injury sustained in Tuesday's
4-2 loss at Philadelphia and Chris Kreider was recalled from the minors to
replace him in the lineup.
Buffalo has kept its faint playoff chances alive by matching a season-high
three-game winning streak with Wednesday's 3-2 shootout win over the Boston
Bruins. It was the first professional sports game in the city of Boston since
the tragic bombings at the Boston Marathon on Monday.
The Sabres got a game-tying power-play goal from Cody Hodgson with 26.6
seconds left in regulation and Drew Stafford had the shootout winner.
Following the shootout, both teams took to the ice and raised their sticks to
the crowd in a final salute of the night.
Thomas Vanek also scored and Ryan Miller made 41 saves in Buffalo's sixth
victory in eight games.
"We're hanging around," said Hodgson. "Right from the start I don't think
anybody really gave us a chance. Instead we're right in the race."
The Sabres have lost four of their past six versus the Rangers, but did pick
up a 3-1 home victory in the most recent encounter on March 12.
The Sports Network