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Rangers put undefeated mark on the line

by Adam Schwartz / NHL.com
Four intradivisional games highlight Wednesday's schedule, but despite the lack of divisional matchups there should be no shortage of excitement.

Two Eastern Conference games feature the Buffalo Sabres visiting the New York Rangers and an Original Six game between the Boston Bruins and the Montreal Canadiens (7:30 p.m. ET, TSN).

Three Western Conference contests see the upstart Phoenix Coyotes taking on the Chicago Blackhawks, the Dallas Stars hosting the Nashville Predators and Anaheim Ducks searching for their first win against the Edmonton Oilers (10 p.m. ET, TSN).

Here's what to watch:

* The Sabres, who won their first two games, against the Canadiens and the Islanders, have yielded just 2 goals, the fewest goals in the Eastern Conference. Buffalo, which scored the third-most goals in the Eastern Conference last season with 255, has scored 9 goals in its first 2 games.

* Buffalo left wing Thomas Vanek, who has scored at least 35 goals in the last two seasons, has 3 goals in 2 games. Vanek, who had a minus-5 rating last season, has a plus-5 rating in 12 career games against the Rangers.

* The Rangers have started the season 5-0 for the first time since the 1983-84 season, and with a win Wednesday they will set the club record for the longest winning streak from the start of a season in their 83-season history. The Rangers have the most even-strength goals in the League with 10, and they've trailed after the first period just once in their 5 games.

* Boston center Patrice Bergeron, who tied for the team lead with 224 shots on goal in 2006-07, has 7 shots in his first 2 games this season. Bergeron, who missed 72 games due to a concussion last season, is tied for the team lead with 3 assists.

 
 
* The Canadiens, who had seven players with at least 50 points last season, have six players averaging at least a point per game through their first 3 games, and defenseman Roman Hamrlik is the only one in the group not to have at least 4 points. The Habs, who had the most points in the Eastern Conference last season, are one of just three unbeaten teams in the East.

* Coyotes first-round picks Mikkel Boedker (2008) and Kyle Turris (2007) scored their first NHL goals Sunday in Phoenix's 4-2 triumph against the Ducks. Coyotes captain Shane Doan, who scored the other two goals in that game, was a first-round pick in 1995 by the Winnipeg Jets, before the franchise moved to Phoenix.

* Blackhawks right wing Dustin Byfuglien, who was converted from a defenseman last season, has 3 goals and 6 points in 7 career games against the Coyotes. Byfuglien beat the odds simply making it to the NHL after being selected in the eighth round (No. 245) by the Blackhawks in the 2003 Entry Draft.

* Nashville right wing Jordin Tootoo, who took 98 shots last season, has 12 shots through 3 games this season. Tootoo is fluent in Inuktituk, a native Canadian dialect.    

* Dallas, which made the Western Conference Finals last season, has allowed 8 goals in its first 2 games this season. In 2007-08, they were one of just four Western Conference teams to allow fewer than 210 goals last season, with 207.

* Oilers defenseman Steve Staios, who was sixth on the club with 81 hits last season, had 6 hits in Edmonton's lone game this season. Staios, who is playing his seventh season with the Oilers, is the team's oldest player at 35.

* The Oilers, who have missed the playoffs the last two seasons, were the last team to start its season, when they defeated the Colorado Avalanche, 3-2, on Sunday.

* The Ducks, who won the Stanley Cup in 2007 and allowed the fewest goals in the Pacific Division last season with 191, are winless in their first 3 games and have allowed 14 goals, the second-most goals in the League.    

Contact Adam Schwartz at aschwartz@nhl.com.
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