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Rangers-Sabres Preview @NHLdotcom

Overtime has been a struggle for the New York Rangers lately, especially against the Eastern Conference-leading Buffalo Sabres.

The Sabres (19-3-2) look to sweep their season series with the Rangers (13-9-3) when the teams meet Friday night at HSBC Arena.

After a three-game winning streak, New York has lost two straight, both in overtime. Buffalo, meanwhile, is 3-0-0 against New York, with two of the wins coming in the extra period. One of them came Sunday, as Buffalo defeated New York 3-2.

The Sabres, who top the East with 40 points, have earned a point in each of their last 10 games against the Rangers, two of which were Buffalo shootout losses. New York's last win over Buffalo in regulation was 3-1 on Dec. 12, 2003.

The Sabres should be well-rested as they face the Rangers for the second straight game. On Sunday, Chris Drury's goal 1:36 into the extra period lifted the Sabres after the Rangers had tied it on Martin Straka's goal at 15:07 of the third.

Buffalo avoided losing two in a row for the first time this season.

The four-day break should allow the Sabres to get forward Jochen Hecht (inner ear) and defenseman Toni Lydman (neck strain) back from injuries for Friday's game.

Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said Tuesday he anticipates both players returning. Hecht has missed three games and Lydman has not dressed since he was hurt against Florida on Nov. 10.

"I'm very excited about Jochen coming back," Sabres co-captain Daniel Briere said. "Our line has done really well when he's in the lineup so far this season. It worked well with Danny Paille. I have no complaints. ... But Jochen is a veteran player, and I've skated with him since I've been a Sabre. It's fun to have him on my side."

Briere leads the team with 20 assists and 30 points. He has nine goals and nine assists in 17 games against the Rangers.

Buffalo rookie forward Jiri Novotny will miss Friday's contest after suffering what the team termed an upper body injury against New York. Novotny is in his first full season with the Sabres and has five goals and nine points in 24 games.

The Rangers fell 5-4 to Atlanta in overtime Tuesday night.

For the second time in three nights, New York battled back in the third period to tie a top Eastern Conference club, only to watch their opponent skate off the Madison Square Garden ice with an extra point.

"We just have to play better hockey when we are up," Straka said. "We just have to keep coming. We can't just sit back."

Straka had a goal against the Thrashers after picking up two against the Sabres. The forward, who already has 14 goals after recording 22 last season, has five goals and four assists during a five-game point streak.

"There is no reason for it," Straka said of his scoring streak. "I guess the guys are giving me the puck a little bit more and the action might be finding me at good spots."

Adam Hall scored twice against Atlanta to double his total for the season.

Rangers right wing Jaromir Jagr was held without a point after recording four goals and four assists in his previous four games. He had an assist against the Sabres on Sunday, and has 39 goals and 90 points in 68 games against them.

New York left wing Brendan Shanahan, among the NHL leaders with 17 goals, has been held without a point in three straight games.

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