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Sabres look to extend point streak vs. Rangers

New York, minus Lundqvist, M. Staal, trying to protect second spot in division

by Joe Yerdon / Correspondent

RANGERS (38-22-6) at SABRES (27-31-9)

TV: 7 p.m. ET; MSG+, MSG-B, NHL.TV

BUFFALO -- The Buffalo Sabres will look to keep a four-game point streak going when they face the New York Rangers at First Niagara Center on Tuesday.

The Sabres are 2-0-2 in their past four games, including a 4-3 shootout win against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Monday. Their strong recent play has moved them to 23rd in the NHL standings and they're three points behind the sixth place Montreal Canadiens in the Atlantic Division.

The Rangers did not skate Tuesday morning. Defenseman Brady Skjei, recalled from Hartford of the American Hockey League on an emergency basis Monday, likely will be paired with Dan Boyle against the Sabres. The Rangers will be without defensemen Dylan McIlrath (knee) and Marc Staal (back spasms).

The Rangers are second in the Metropolitan Division, three points ahead of the New York Islanders, but the Islanders have three games in hand. The Islanders play the Pittsburgh Penguins at home Tuesday.

Staal and goaltender Henrik Lundqvist (neck spasms) did not travel with the Rangers to Buffalo. Antti Raanta is expected to start in goal, with Magnus Hellberg the backup.

Two key players in the Sabres' solid play of late are rookie forwards Jack Eichel and Sam Reinhart. Eichel has scored a goal in three straight games and Reinhart has three assists in the past two games. They have been linemates since the third period of a 2-0 loss to the Los Angeles Kings on Feb. 27. Reinhart's ability to set up Eichel and Evander Kane on that line has helped spark the Sabres.

"I think when you talk about chemistry you're talking about players who know where people are going to be or know, whether it's tendencies or the habits of the players they're playing with, and I think Sam has the ability to read that in the players he's playing with regardless of who that is," Sabres coach Dan Bylsma said. "It's different for every player. Ryan O'Reilly carries the puck, holds on to the puck in a different way than Jack Eichel does. When you're talking about chemistry it's being able to read that in the guys you're playing with and what you expect them to do with it. I think a strength of Sam's game is being able to do that; to read off the play, read off each other and add, supplement each other."

Eichel has 45 points in 67 games, and he scored his 20th goal against the Maple Leafs on Monday. He's the youngest player Sabres to hit the 20-goal mark at 19 years, 131 days old.

Reinhart has 18 goals and 14 assists in 64 games, including five assists in the past six games.

"Honestly I don't think much has changed in regards to the difference in [my game]," Reinhart said. "I think you're going to score more goals and go through times of getting more assists. I was never too focused on it. I knew it would even itself out eventually."

The only change to the Sabres lineup from Monday will be goaltender Robin Lehner starting against the Rangers. The rest of the lineup will be the same from Tuesday.

Here are the projected lineups:


Chris Kreider - Derek Stepan - Jesper Fast

Kevin Hayes - Derick Brassard - Mats Zuccarello

Oscar Lindberg - Eric Staal - Viktor Stalberg

J.T. Miller - Dominic Moore - Tanner Glass

Ryan McDonagh - Dan Girardi

Keith Yandle - Kevin Klein

Brady Skjei - Dan Boyle

Antti Raanta

Magnus Hellberg

Injured: Henrik Lundqvist (neck spasms), Dylan McIlrath (knee), Marc Staal (back spasms), Rick Nash (left leg bone bruise)

Scratched: None


Evander Kane - Jack Eichel - Sam Reinhart

Marcus Foligno - Johan Larsson - Brian Gionta

Zemgus Girgensons - Cal O'Reilly - Nicolas Deslauriers

Daniel Catenacci - David Legwand - Matt Moulson

Josh Gorges - Rasmus Ristolainen

Jake McCabe - Zach Bogosian

Carlo Colaiacovo - Mark Pysyk

Robin Lehner

Chad Johnson

Injured: Cody Franson (neck), Ryan O'Reilly (foot), Tyler Ennis (concussion), Cody McCormick (blood clot)

Scratched: None

Status report: The Sabres did not have a morning skate after playing in Toronto on Monday.

Who's hot: Eichel has four points in his past three games. … Stepan has one goal and two assists in the past two games.

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