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Rangers at Sabres 2.2.17: Pregame Notes

by New York Rangers @NYRangers /

Thursday, Feb. 2, 2017, 7:30 p.m. ET
KeyBank Center - Buffalo, NY
Rangers: 31-18-1 (63 pts)
Sabres: 20-20-9 (49 pts)

The Rangers play their 51st game of the 2016-17 season tonight, Feb. 2, against the Buffalo Sabres at KeyBank Center (7:30 p.m. ET - TV: MSG Network; Radio: ESPN 98.7 FM). The Rangers have posted a 31-18-1 record this season.


  • All-Time: 70-76-25-5 (39-30-15-3 at home; 31-46-10-2 on the road)
  • 2016-17: Tomorrow's game is the third and final meeting between the Rangers and Sabres, and the second of two meetings between the two teams in Buffalo. The Rangers have posted a 0-2-0 record (0-1-0 at home; 0-1-0 on the road), as the Blueshirts were defeated by the Sabres, 4-1, in the last meeting between the two teams on Jan. 3 at MSG. Four different Blueshirts have registered a goal and 11 different Rangers have tallied a point thus far in the season series.
  • The Rangers have won nine of their last 12 games against Buffalo, dating back to Apr. 19, 2013 (9-3-0 record over the span). The Blueshirts have also won five of their last six games against the Sabres in Buffalo (5-1-0).


  • Justin Falk played one season with the Rangers (2013-14).
  • Scott Arniel played four seasons with Buffalo (1986-87 - 1989-90) and served as an Assistant Coach with the Sabres for three seasons (2002-03 - 2005-06).
  • Jim Schoenfeld played parts of 11 seasons with the Sabres (1972-73 - 1981-82; 1984-85) and he is a member of the Sabres Hall of Fame, as well as the Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame.
  • Chris Drury played three seasons with the Sabres (2003-04 - 2006-07) and was Buffalo's captain in parts of all three seasons.
  • J.T. Miller and Jake McCabe were teammates with the U.S. National Team Development Program (USNTDP) for two seasons (2009-10 and 2010-11). Miller, McCabe, and Jimmy Vesey helped the United States win a gold medal at the 2013 IIHF World Junior Championship.
  • Michael Grabner, Matt Moulson, and Kyle Okposo were all teammates with the Islanders for parts of four seasons (2010-11 - 2013-14). Grabner and Okposo were teammates for five seasons with the Islanders (2010-11 - 2014-15).
  • Nick Holden and Ryan O'Reilly were teammates with the Avalanche for two seasons (2013-14 and 2014-15).
  • Mats Zuccarello and Ryan O'Reilly were teammates with Metallurg Magnitogorsk in the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) for part of one season (2012-13).
  • Michael Grabner and Justin Falk were teammates with the Spokane Chiefs of the Western Hockey League (WHL) for two seasons (2005-06 and 2006-07).
  • Adam Clendening is a native of Niagara Falls, New York.


  • Henrik Lundqvist - 32 GP, 17-12-2, 2.41 GAA, .915 SV%, 2 SO - In his last six appearances in Buffalo (since Mar. 30, 2011), Lundqvist has posted a 3-3-0 record, along with a 2.16 GAA, a .928 SV%, and 1 SO.
  • Rick Nash - 20 GP, 13-6-19 - Nash has tallied a goal/point in 12 of his last 17 games against the Sabres, dating back to Jan. 26, 2007 (13 goals, five assists over the span).
  • Michael Grabner - 18 GP, 9-4-13 - Grabner has registered three multi-goal games against Buffalo in his career, including a hat trick on Feb. 13, 2011.
  • Derek Stepan - 22 GP, 6-7-13 - Stepan has recorded a point in four of his last five games against the Sabres (one goal, three assists), and he has tallied 10 points (three goals, seven assists) in his last 14 games against Buffalo.
  • Mats Zuccarello - 14 GP, 4-7-11 - Zuccarello has notched a point in eight of his last 12 games against Buffalo (four goals, seven assists).
  • Ryan McDonagh - 19 GP, 1-7-8 - McDonagh has registered a point in two of his last three games against the Sabres (one goal, one assist) and he has tallied seven points (one goal, six assists) in his last 11 contests against Buffalo.
  • Jesper Fast - 8 GP, 2-4-6 - Fast has tallied a point in four of his last five games against Buffalo (one goal, four assists over the span), and he has registered a point in five of eight career games against the Sabres.
  • J.T. Miller - 11 GP, 3-4-7 - Miller has tallied a point in four of the last five games against Buffalo (three goals, one assist), including a goal in three of those contests, and he has recorded a point in seven of his last nine contests against the Sabres (three goals, four assists).

New York leads the NHL in road wins this season (17) and also leads the NHL in road wins since the start of the 2013-14 season (89). The Rangers' 89 road wins since the start of the 2013-14 season are the most road wins the team has earned in any four-season span in franchise history. The Rangers have won six of their last seven road games (6-1-0). The Blueshirts have also earned a win in 16 of their last 21 road contests (16-5-0), including 10 of their last 12 road games (10-2-0).
New York ranks second in the NHL in goals (171 - includes two team goals awarded for shootout wins) and also ranks second in the NHL in goals per game (3.38) this season. The Rangers have recorded 56 goals over the last 15 games, registering at least four goals in 10 of the 15 contests.
Tomorrow's game is the first of 13 contests in February for the Rangers this season. New York will play eight of its 13 games in February at Madison Square Garden, and six of the final eight games during the month are against teams in the Metropolitan Division. The Rangers won 10 games in February in each of the last two seasons and have posted a 20-5-3 record in 28 games in February over the span.
Two Rangers rookies have registered at least 20 points this season (Brady Skjei and Jimmy Vesey). Prior to 2016-17, the last season in which two Rangers rookies tallied 20 or more points was 2010-11 (Derek Stepan and Mats Zuccarello).
The Rangers registered four goals in the third period on Jan. 31 vs. Columbus. The Blueshirts rank second in the NHL in third period goals this season (67) and have tallied 10 goals in the third period over the last six games.
The Rangers' 31 wins in 2016-17 are tied for the fifth-most the team has earned through the first 50 games of one season in franchise history. The Blueshirts have earned at least 31 wins through the first 50 games of a season six times in franchise history (1971-72, 1972-73, 1991-92, 1993-94, 2011-12, 2016-17).
Since Dec. 22, 2015, the Rangers have posted a 30-8-1 record in the game following a loss (regulation or overtime/shootout). New York has posted a 13-4-1 record in games following a loss in 2016-17.
The Blueshirts enter the contest with a plus-36 goal differential this season (171 goals for; 135 goals against) and rank fourth in the NHL in goal differential in 2016-17.
Alain Vigneault coached his 1,100th career game as a National Hockey League head coach on Jan. 23 vs. Los Angeles. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the only NHL head coach who earned more wins than Vigneault through his first 1,100 games coached in the league was Scotty Bowman. Vigneault leads all NHL head coaches in wins since the start of the 2006-07 season (488). Vigneault will coach his 1,103rd career game in the NHL in tomorrow's contest, passing Billy Reay for sole possession of 17th place on the league's all-time games coached list.
Henrik Lundqvist has allowed two goals or fewer in four of his last five appearances, posting a 3-1-0 record, along with a 2.05 GAA, a .929 SV%, and 1 SO over the span. He earned his 20th win of the 2016-17 season on Jan. 22 at Detroit, becoming the first goaltender in NHL history to register at least 20 wins in each of his first 12 seasons in the league. In addition, Lundqvist is the 10th goaltender in NHL history who has earned at least 20 wins in 12 or more seasons, and his 12 consecutive 20-win seasons are tied for the most in NHL history (Brodeur and Esposito).
Michael Grabner leads the NHL in even strength goals (21), and is tied for ninth in the NHL in goals (22) and plus/minus rating this season. He is the only NHL player who has registered at least 20 goals and a plus-20 rating in 2016-17. Thus far this season, 29 of Grabner's 30 points have either been a goal or a primary assist. Over the last 10 seasons (since 2007-08), Grabner is one of three Rangers who have registered 21 or more even strength goals in a season (Marian Gaborik - 2009-10 and 2011-12; Rick Nash - 2014-15). Grabner has recorded 20 points (14 goals, six assists) and a plus-20 rating in 23 road games this season; he leads the NHL in plus/minus rating and is tied for third in goals on the road.
J.T. Miller has recorded a point in 11 of the last 13 games (seven goals, seven assists), including a goal in four of the last eight contests (four goals). He leads the Rangers in games with a point this season (28).
Mats Zuccarello has registered 18 points (one goal, 17 assists) over the last 17 games (since Dec. 18), and he is tied for second in the NHL in assists over the span. He ranks second in the NHL in even strength assists this season (24), only trailing Connor McDavid (27). Zuccarello leads the Rangers in assists (29), even strength assists, and even strength points (31) this season, and he is also tied for the team lead in points (38).
Derek Stepan is tied for the team lead in points in 2016-17 (38; 12 goals, 26 assists). He has recorded 27 points (10 goals, 17 assists) in the last 32 games, including 24 points (eight goals, 16 assists) in the last 26 contests and 17 points (seven goals, 10 assists) in the last 17 games.
Ryan McDonagh participated in the 2017 NHL All-Star Game on Jan. 29. He became the first Ranger to play in at least two consecutive NHL All-Star Games since Henrik Lundqvist (2009 - 2012) and the first Rangers defenseman to accomplish the feat since Brian Leetch (2001 and 2002). McDonagh ranks fourth among NHL defensemen in primary assists (16), is tied for sixth in even strength assists (17), and ranks seventh in assists (26) in 2016-17.
Dan Girardi enters the contest with 771 career games played as a Ranger, and he is one game away from tying Adam Graves for ninth place on the franchise's all-time games played list. Girardi ranks fourth in the NHL in blocked shots this season (126).
Power Play:

  • The Rangers were 0-for-1 (2:00) on Jan. 31 vs. Columbus.
  • New York has tallied a power play goal in six of the last 14 games (10-for-46; 21.7%).
  • The Blueshirts are tied for 12th in the NHL in power play efficiency this season (20.5%; 31-for-151). 

Penalty Kill:

  • The Rangers were not shorthanded on Jan. 31 vs. Columbus.
  • New York has not allowed a power play goal in four of the last five games (90.0%; 9-for-10).
  • New York ranks second in the NHL in shorthanded goals in 2016-17 (seven).


  • Ryan McDonagh - 2 points away from 200 in his NHL career/as a Ranger
  • Mika Zibanejad - 2 assists away from 100 in his NHL career
  • Alain Vigneault - 3 wins away from 600 as a head coach in the NHL
  • Brandon Pirri - 4 points away from 100 in his NHL career
  • Henrik Lundqvist - 5 wins away from 400 in his NHL career/as a Ranger

INJURIES (131 Man-Games Lost to Injury)
Kevin Hayes (lower-body injury) - has missed three games

  • Feb. 1, 1970 - Terry Sawchuk earned his final career NHL win and final career NHL shutout, stopping all 29 shots he faced as the Rangers defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins, 6-0, at MSG. Sawchuk, who passed away in May of 1970, was the NHL's all-time leader in wins (447) and shutouts (103) at the time of his death.
  • Feb. 2, 1969 - Brad Park established a single-game Rangers rookie record with four assists as the Blueshirts defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins, 7-3, at MSG. The G-A-G line (Vic Hadfield, Jean Ratelle, Rod Gilbert) registered 11 points in the contest.
  • Feb. 2, 1980 - Phil Esposito registered his 700th career NHL goal, becoming the second player (at the time) to accomplish the feat (along with Gordie Howe). Esposito tallied two goals to help the Rangers defeat the Washington Capitals, 6-3.
  • Feb. 2, 1994 - A Rangers player recorded a hat trick for the second consecutive game, as Adam Graves tallied three goals and Mark Messier recorded an assist on all four of the Blueshirts' goals in a 4-4 tie against the New York Islanders at MSG.
  • Feb. 2, 2002 - Brian Leetch skated in his final NHL All-Star Game. Leetch was an 11-time NHL All-Star and played in nine All-Star Games in his career (he missed two due to injury).
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