The Buffalo Sabres and New York Rangers both attempt to snap losing streaks when the teams face each other in a possible first-round playoff preview.
The Sabres try to avoid extending their season-high losing skid to six games, while the Rangers hope to halt a three-game slide.
New York is tied with the Philadelphia Flyers at the top of the Atlantic Division with 11 games remaining for both teams.
If the Rangers lose the division to the Flyers, they would likely face the Sabres in the opening round of the playoffs. The Rangers have lost five of the last six meetings with Buffalo, with the only win coming 3-2 in a shootout on Nov. 22.
The last two defeats for the Rangers have both come in shootouts, 3-2 to Florida on Friday and 4-3 to Tampa Bay on Saturday."It's disappointing not to win one or both games," Rangers defenseman Jason Strudwick said. "When you leave it into overtime and shootouts, anything can happen so we have to clean up our act a little bit in the early periods."The Rangers have dropped their last five overtime or shootout games, four of those coming in the last 10 overall contests.League-leading scorer Jaromir Jagr has scored five goals and added an assist during the three-game losing streak, but missed his shootout attempts in the last two games.Jagr is looking to break the Rangers franchise records for goals and points in a season.The right wing is one goal short of Adam Graves' 52 goals, set during the team's 1993-94 Stanley Cup-winning season. Jagr is also two points shy of Jean Ratelle's points record of 109, set in 1971-72.
The Sabres have dropped five games in a row for the first time since a seven-game slide from Dec. 4-19, 2003. Buffalo lost 5-4 to the Boston Bruins on Saturday, when goaltender Ryan Miller allowed the game-winning goal to Marco Sturm with just 4:49 left in the third period.
"I think maybe we looked too much for the tie," Buffalo center Daniel Briere said. "But give them credit, they bounced back."
Miller has struggled in his last four starts, losing all of them while posting a 3.79 goals-against average and .890 save percentage.
The Sabres have been outscored 21-10 during the losing streak, which has dropped them nine points behind Ottawa for the Northeast Division lead.
STANDINGS: Sabres - 93 points, 2nd place, 9 PB, Northeast Division. Rangers - 90 points, 1st place (tied), Atlantic Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Sabres - Ales Kotalik and Thomas Vanek, 24 goals; Maxim Afinogenov, 39 assists and 57 points; Andrew Peters, 77 PIM. Rangers - Jagr, 51 goals, 56 assists and 107 points; Darius Kasparaitis, 95 PIM.
SPECIAL TEAMS (through March 25): Sabres - Power play: 20.5 percent (86 for 420), 4th in NHL. Penalty killing: 86.2 percent (325 for 377), 3rd. Rangers - Power play: 19.6 percent (75 for 383), 6th. Penalty killing: 85.0 percent (363 for 427), 5th.
GOALTENDERS: Sabres - Miller (25-12-2, 0 SO, 2.58 GAA); Martin Biron
(18-7-3, 0, 2.94). Rangers - Henrik Lundqvist
(28-10-9, 2, 2.19); Kevin Weekes (11-10-3, 0, 2.86).
SEASON SERIES: Sabres, 2-1.
LAST MEETING: Jan. 24; Sabres, 2-1. At New York, Kotalik scored the game-winner at 1:53 of the third period.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Sabres - 21-11-2 on the road; Rangers - 22-8-6 at home.