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Rangers Return Home To Face Sabres

by Matt Calamia @MattCalamia /

The Rangers (26-12-1, 53 points) begin the 2017 portion of their schedule Tuesday night against the Buffalo Sabres at Madison Square Garden.

New York is coming off a successful two-game road trip through Arizona and Colorado, picking up four points and outscoring their opponents 12-5 over the two games, including a 6-2 victory over the Avalanche Saturday night.

Chris Kreider scored the second hat trick of his career while J.T. Miller potted a pair of goals, giving him three over his last two games. Henrik Lundqvist picked up win No. 390 for his career, passing Dominik Hasek for the most wins all time by a European-born goaltender in NHL history.

Lundqvist is expected to get the start against the Sabres, a team he's had success against over the past several season at The Garden. He's 5-0-0 in his last six appearances against Buffalo at home, including one shutout. For his career, Lundqvist is 17-11-2 with two shutouts against the Sabres.

While he's not expected to be in the lineup on Tuesday, forward Rick Nash practiced in a regular jersey on Monday - though as a defenseman - as he continues to work his way back from a groin injury that has sidelined him for the last five games.

The Rangers recalled forward Nicklas Jensen from Hartford (AHL) Monday evening. The 23-year-old has eight goals and five assists in his last 11 games with the Wolf Pack dating back to Nov. 26. He appeared in four games with the Rangers in December before being sent back prior to the Christmas break.

Tuesday marks the second of three meetings between the Rangers and Sabres, and the first at The Garden. The two teams met just over a month ago in Buffalo, with the Sabres walking away with a 4-3 victory. Nash, Ryan McDonagh and Marc Staal each scored.

The Sabres (13-15-8, 34 points) enter tonight's game with the worst record in the Eastern Conference, and are coming off a 3-1 loss Saturday against the Boston Bruins.

Injuries have hurt the Sabres this season, beginning in training camp with the extended absence of Jack Eichel. Center Ryan O'Reilly has missed the last three following an appendectomy, and defenseman Dmitry Kulikov has missed the last two with a lower-back injury. Forward Tyler Ennis has been limited to just 12 games this season.

Offense has been difficult to come by for the Sabres this season, as they enter play tonight with the second-fewest goals in the NHL with 78 in 36 games.

Free agent signee Kyle Okposo leads the team with 10 goals in 35 games, followed by Sam Reinhart, Matt Moulson and Evander Kane with eight each. Eichel, meanwhile, has seven tallies through 15 games since he returned from injury.

Goaltender Robin Lehner is 8-12-5 as Buffalo's No. 1 netminder. Despite the mediocre record, his .921 SV% is in the top-half of the league. He's 2-2-0 with a 3.73 GAA in four career starts against the Rangers.

The Rangers' power play has been lights out over the last three games, going 7-for-16 over that span, and currently rank fourth in the NHL at 23.1 percent. The Sabres' penalty kill, meanwhile, is ranked last at 73.9 percent.

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