Season Series: This is the second of four meetings between the teams. The Rangers cruised to a 4-1 victory at Buffalo on Dec. 10. Carl Hagelin scored twice for New York.
Big Story: The Rangers were one of the biggest surprises in the first half of the 2011-12 season, as they entered the All-Star break atop the Eastern Conference with 65 points. Despite a tough shootout loss at New Jersey on Tuesday night, the Blueshirts head to Buffalo one point ahead of the Boston Bruins.
New York lost a second point in the standings Tuesday night when Devils forward David Clarkson scored with 47.6 seconds remaining in regulation. Andy Greene attempted to fire the puck in deep, but it hit a stanchion in the corner and bounced directly into the slot, where Clarkson beat Martin Biron.
"It's not like we had a breakdown or anything like that," Rangers coach John Tortorella said. "It's a rim, it goes off the stanchion. We don't want to accept it, but again, you hope one will go your way somewhere later in the year. We can't do anything about that."
Rangers: New York did its best to take the positives from Tuesday's loss, but several players admitted it was indeed a tough pill to swallow. After all, every point at this time of year is crucial, as the Blueshirts would love to win the conference and potentially have home-ice advantage for at least three rounds in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
"It's probably as frustrating as ever," Biron said, "because you feel like you had a good game and you were about to limit their chances down the stretch. I mean, they got a bounce. If it's something you create or you make mistakes, but this is frustrating. It's a bad bounce, it happens at times."
Added Tortorella: "I thought we played a pretty good game. We were a few seconds away and a bad bounce away from winning another hockey game."
Sabres: Don't look now, but Buffalo might be turning things around.
The Sabres, who experienced a tremendous amount of disappointment during the first half of the season, made it three in a row with a 3-1 victory at Montreal on Tuesday night. The Sabres peppered Canadiens goalie Carey Price with 40 shots, despite losing sniper Thomas Vanek to an upper-body injury in the first period.
In Vanek's absence, Paul Gaustad stepped up with a pair of assists and the game-winning goal. Ryan Miller added 27 saves for the Sabres (21-24-5), who won their second straight road game after a stretch in which they lost 12 in a row away from First Niagara Center. Buffalo beat New Jersey 2-1 on Jan. 24 in its last game before the break.
The sense of winning was great," coach Lindy Ruff said. "The sense of losing Thomas to another injury is something that you just shake your head as a coach again. You're trying to gain ground. You're trying to move up. You're trying to put a little streak together, and we lose another important piece.
"He's going to be out for a period of time. ... Our initial thought is maybe a week, but our doctor is going to have to evaluate it. It's the type of injury we're going to have to dig a little deeper on."
Who's Hot: Rangers winger Marian Gaborik is 2-4-6 over the last five games. … Sabres captain Jason Pominville has 2 goals and an assist over his last five.
Stat Pack: Tuesday marked the first time Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist missed a start against the Devils since Dec. 17, 2006. … Gaustad's three-point night Tuesday was his first since Dec. 9, 2010. … Miller recorded his 234th career victory Tuesday, tying Dominik Hasek's franchise record.
Puck Drop: "I don't know ... I don't think it's easier to swallow. Any loss is tough. It's a tough break. I thought we handled ourselves well after that and just laughed it off. It's a bad bounce, but we have to go try to win in overtime. We just came up a little short." -- Rangers defenseman Dan Girardi after Tuesday's shootout loss at New Jersey