SABRES (35-29-10) at RANGERS (46-20-7)
TV: MSG-B (HD), MSG 2 (HD)
Buffalo 6-2-2; New York 5-5-0
This is the fourth and final meeting between the clubs this season. The Rangers are going for the season sweep, though two of their three wins have come after regulation.
While it's the final meeting of the regular season, this could be a preview of a first-round playoff series in the Eastern Conference. The Sabres have been red-hot during the second half to make a run for the No. 8 seed, while the Rangers, who have been atop the East for most of the season, have been fending off the juggernaut that is the Pittsburgh Penguins for the No. 1 seed.
Buffalo's 3-0 home win vs. Montreal on Wednesday improved the Sabres to 11-2-4 since Feb. 17. Ryan Miller
made 34 saves and Cody Hodgson
scored his first two goals since he was acquired from the Vancouver Canucks at the trade deadline.
"We've put together a good run to be where we're at," coach Lindy Ruff said. "There's a tough schedule ahead of us, but it's rewarding to get us as close as we've gotten right now."
Rangers: After a month-long stretch of up-and-down hockey, the Rangers have strung together three solid games in a row and two consecutive victories, the latest a 2-1 overtime win against the Detroit Red Wings on Wednesday night.
Friday's game against the Sabres will wrap a seven-game homestand and is the latest chance for the Rangers to create space between them and the Penguins.
"I think no matter if we have a 10-point lead or a one- or two-point lead, we need to keep our focus. We need to stay sharp," said Ryan Callahan, whose OT winner was his 27th goal of the season. "With them on our heels, it forces us to do that. We're aware of what's going on and how close they are. We just have to keep our game in order."
Who's Hot: Miller has just one regulation loss in his last 16 games (11-1-4). … The Rangers' Brad Richards has six goals and six assists in his last eight games.
Injury Report: For the Sabres, Jochen Hecht (concussion) is on IR whileMatt Ellis (knee) is out andNathan Gerbe has been out since March 12 with an upper-body injury. … The Rangers lack any new injuries.
Stat Pack: The Sabres have power-play goals in their last three games (4-for-13). … The Rangers are 2-for-6 on the power play in their last two games.
Puck Drop: "We knew everybody was counting us out, and we just wanted to go out and prove to ourselves that we knew we had a better team in here. It shows the character of the boys." -- Sabres forward Derek Roy