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Key clash for Rangers, Sabres

by Adam Schwartz

Ryan Miller and the Buffalo Sabres host Jaromir Jagr and the New York Rangers tonight at HSBC Arena. The Sabres are currently four points out of a playoff spot in the East.
After an action-packed weekend, Monday’s NHL schedule sees just six teams hit the ice.

The New York Rangers visit Buffalo to conclude their season series, the Calgary Flames host the St. Louis Blues and the Vancouver Canucks begin a four-game road trip in Los Angeles.

Here’s what to watch:

* The Rangers, who are in sixth place in the Eastern Conference with 81 points, have not lost in regulation in their last 12 games. The Rangers, who have allowed just 11 goals in their last six games, have yielded the second-fewest goals in the conference with 169.

* Rangers right wing Jaromir Jagr, who has scored at least 100 points in five seasons, has 40 goals and 55 assists for 95 points in 72 career games against the Sabres, including one goal and two assists for three points in three games this season.

* Rangers center Brandon Dubinsky, who leads Atlantic Division rookies in scoring with 33 points, has three goals and four assists for seven points and a plus-5 rating in three games against the Sabres this season.


* Buffalo defenseman Toni Lydman is tied for the second-highest plus-minus rating among Sabres defensemen at plus-6, but he’s a minus-5 in his last five games while playing at least 21 minutes in four games during that span. Lydman, who enjoys the music of Pantera, leads the team with 1,461:09 of ice time this season.

* The Sabres, who have lost four of their last five games, are four points behind the Philadelphia Flyers for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Buffalo, which is fourth in the League with 76 third-period goals, has an 18-11-7 record against non-divisional conference opponents.

* Buffalo right wing Steve Bernier, who was acquired from San Jose in the Brian Campbell trade, has two goals and three assists for five points in five games with the Sabres.

* St. Louis right wing Brad Boyes, who leads the team with 34 goals, snapped his eight-game goal drought Saturday by scoring both St. Louis goals in the Blues’ 4-2 loss to the Vancouver Canucks.

* The Blues have lost eight of their last nine games, scoring just 10 goals in that span.


* St. Louis left wing Paul Kariya has 21 goals and 40 assists for 61 points in 48 career games against the Flames. Kariya, who has six seasons with at least 50 assists, leads the team with 37 assists.

* Only the Columbus Blue Jackets have more overtime and shootout losses than the Flames’ 10. Despite Calgary’s overtime and shootout woes, the Flames are just one point behind the Minnesota Wild for the Northwest Division lead and have two games in hand.

* Calgary left wing Kristian Huselius, who is third on the team with 21 goals, has not scored in his last 20 games.

* Flames defenseman Adrian Aucoin, who is second among Calgary defensemen with 30 points, has the second-highest average ice time among Calgary players with 21:43.

* The Canucks, who have allowed the fewest goals in the Northwest Division with 173, have yielded just six goals in their past three games.

* Canucks defenseman Kevin Bieksa has a minus-3 rating in eight games since missing 47 games with a calf laceration.


* Los Angeles left wing Dustin Brown, who leads the League with 276 hits, has three goals and two assists for five points and a plus-3 rating in three games against the Canucks this season.

* Vancouver center Henrik Sedin, who leads the team with 53 assists, has 10 assists in his last 12 games. He has at least 50 assists in each of his last three seasons.

* Kings goalie Erik Ersberg, who was not drafted, has started the last four games, becoming the sixth goalie to play for coach Marc Crawford this season.

* Los Angeles center Anze Kopitar, who has four goals and nine assists for 13 points in his last eight games, leads the team in goals (29), assists (39) and points (68).

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