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Rangers vs. Sabres 1.3.17: Pregame Notes

by New York Rangers @NYRangers / NYRangers.com

NEW YORK RANGERS vs. BUFFALO SABRES
Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2017, 7:00 p.m. ET
Madison Square Garden - New York, NY
 
Rangers: 26-12-1 (53 pts)
Sabres: 13-15-8 (34 pts)

TONIGHT'S GAME
The Rangers play their 40th game of the 2016-17 season and begin a back-to-back set tonight, Jan. 3, against the Buffalo Sabres at Madison Square Garden (7:00 p.m. ET - TV: MSG Network; Radio: ESPN 98.7 FM). The Blueshirts enter the contest on a three-game winning streak. In addition, New York has won 10 of its last 14 contests (10-4-0), including nine of its last 12 games (9-3-0) and six of its last eight games (6-2-0). The Rangers have posted a 26-12-1 record this season.

RANGERS VS. SABRES

  • All-Time: 70-75-25-5 (39-29-15-3 at home; 31-46-10-2 on the road)
  • 2016-17: Tomorrow's game is the second of three meetings between the Rangers and Sabres, and the only meeting between the two teams at MSG. The Rangers have posted a 0-1-0 record (0-0-0 at home; 0-1-0 on the road), as the Blueshirts were defeated by the Sabres, 4-3, on Dec. 1 in Buffalo. Eight different Rangers notched a point in the contest, while Ryan McDonagh, Rick Nash, and Marc Staal each registered a goal in the game. Following tomorrow's contest, the Rangers and Sabres will play against each other on the following date: Feb. 2 (at Buffalo).
  • The Rangers have won nine of their last 11 games against Buffalo, dating back to Apr. 19, 2013 (9-2-0 record over the span). The Blueshirts have also won five of their last six home games against the Sabres (5-1-0), as well as seven of their last 10 contests against Buffalo at MSG (7-3-0).
  • Two years ago tomorrow (Jan. 3, 2015), the Rangers defeated the Sabres, 6-1, at MSG. New York recorded a goal on three consecutive power play opportunities in a span of 2:32 in the first period. Six different Rangers tallied a goal and 13 different Blueshirts recorded at least one point in the contest.

RANGERS-SABRES CONNECTIONS

  • 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.
  • 90TH SEASON NOTE - Mark Messier tallied his final NHL goal/point while playing in his final NHL game on Mar. 31, 2004 against Buffalo at MSG.

 
INDIVIDUAL CAREER STATISTICS VS. SABRES

  • Henrik Lundqvist - 31 GP, 17-11-2, 2.35 GAA, .918 SV%, 2 SO - In his last six appearances against Buffalo at MSG (dating back to Mar. 3, 2013), Lundqvist has posted a 5-0-0 record (one no-decision), along with a 1.85 GAA, a .930 SV%, and 1 SO.
  • Antti Raanta - 2 GP, 1-1-0, 1.84 GAA, .941 SV% - Raanta has allowed two goals or fewer in each of his two career appearances against Buffalo, and he earned a win in his only career start against the Sabres (Mar. 8, 2016; 34 saves on 36 shots in a 4-2 Rangers win).
  • 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 when he was a member of the Columbus Blue Jackets (13 goals, five assists over the span).
  • Michael Grabner - 17 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 - 21 GP, 6-7-13 - Stepan enters the contest with a four-game point streak against the Sabres (one goal, three assists), and he has tallied 10 points (three goals, seven assists) in his last 13 games against Buffalo.
  • Mats Zuccarello - 13 GP, 4-7-11 - Zuccarello has notched a point in eight of his last 11 games against Buffalo (four goals, seven assists).
  • Ryan McDonagh - 18 GP, 1-7-8 - McDonagh has registered a point in each of the last two games against the Sabres (one goal, one assist) and he has tallied seven points (one goal, six assists) in his last 10 contests against Buffalo.
  • Jesper Fast - 7 GP, 2-4-6 - Fast enters the contest with a four-game point streak against Buffalo (one goal, four assists over the span), and he has registered a point in five of seven career games against the Sabres.
  • J.T. Miller - 10 GP, 3-3-6 - Miller has tallied a goal/point in three of the last four games against Buffalo (three goals), and he has recorded a point in six of his last eight contests against the Sabres (three goals, three assists).

WINNING WAYS
The Rangers' 26 wins in 2016-17 are tied for the third-most wins the team has earned through the first 39 games of one season in franchise history. The Blueshirts have earned at least 26 wins in their first 39 games of a season five times in franchise history (1970-71, 1971-72, 1993-94, 2011-12, 2016-17), and the only seasons in which the team earned more than 26 wins through the first 39 contests were 1971-72 (27) and 1993-94 (27). New York is tied for the NHL lead in wins this season.
 
YEAR IN REVIEW
The Rangers posted a 51-26-6 record in 83 regular season games during the 2016 calendar year. The Blueshirts were one of three NHL teams that earned at least 50 regular season wins during the 2016 calendar year. In addition, the Rangers are the only NHL team that registered 50 or more regular season wins in each of the last two calendar years (2015 and 2016).
 
HATS OFF
At least one Ranger has recorded a hat trick in each of the last two games (Matt Puempel on Dec. 29 at Arizona and Chris Kreider on Dec. 31 at Colorado). The last time the Blueshirts have had a player register a hat trick in two consecutive games was Dec. 23, 2014 vs. Washington (Rick Nash) and Dec. 27, 2014 vs. New Jersey (Derek Stepan).
 
TOP TEN
The Blueshirts posted a 10-5-0 record in December this season. The Rangers earned 10 wins in a calendar month for the second consecutive month (10-4-1 record in November), marking the second time in franchise history that the team registered 10 wins in back-to-back months (the first time was in February and March of 2015).
 
STARS ON BROADWAY
In three of the last four weeks, a Ranger has been selected as the NHL's Second Star of the Week (Antti Raanta - week ending on Dec. 11; Henrik Lundqvist - week ending on Dec. 18; Chris Kreider - week ending on Jan. 1).
 
MAKING THE DIFFERENCE
The Rangers rank second in the NHL in goal differential this season (plus-38 - 135 goals for; 97 goals against). The Blueshirts have posted a plus-19 goal differential both at home and on the road this season, and the Rangers are the only NHL team that has posted a plus-19 goal differential or better both at home and on the road in 2016-17.
 
THREE'S COMPANY
The Chris Kreider-Derek Stepan-Mats Zuccarello line registered seven points (three goals, four assists) in the Rangers' last game on Dec. 31 at Colorado and has tallied 22 points (nine goals, 13 assists) over the last four games. The three players have registered 46 points - including 17 goals - in the Rangers' 15 games since Dec. 1.
 
20/20 VISION
The Rangers are the only NHL team that has nine players who have recorded 20 or more points this season (Stepan, Kreider, Zuccarello, Hayes, Miller, McDonagh, Grabner, Nash, and Holden). Prior to 2016-17, the last season in which the Rangers had at least nine players who tallied 20 or more points through the first 39 games was 1993-94 (Messier, Leetch, Graves, Zubov, Tikkanen, Gartner, Nemchinov, Larmer, Kovalev, and Amonte).
 
TEAM EFFORT
The Rangers are the only NHL team that has six players who have tallied at least 10 goals in 2016-17 (Grabner, Nash, Kreider, Hayes, Miller, and Vesey).
 
ON POINT
The Blueshirts are one of four NHL teams that have two defensemen (Ryan McDonagh and Nick Holden) who have registered 20 or more points this season (along with Chicago, Montreal, and Pittsburgh). Prior to 2016-17, the last season in which the Rangers had two defensemen who tallied at least 20 points through the first 39 games was 1994-95 (Brian Leetch and Sergei Zubov).
 
GOALS GALORE
New York leads the NHL in goals (135 - includes two team goals awarded for shootout wins) and ranks third in the NHL in goals per game (3.41) this season. The Rangers have recorded 20 goals over the last four games, registering at least four goals in each of the four contests, and the Blueshirts have tallied six goals in each of the last two games.
 
TWO GOOD
The Rangers have allowed two goals or fewer in regulation in 25 of 39 games this season and have posted a 21-3-1 record in those 25 contests.
 
HOME COOKING
Tomorrow's game is the Rangers' 21st home contest of the 2016-17 season. New York has posted a 13-6-1 record at MSG this season and has outscored its opponents, 72-53, over the first 20 home games this season. The Blueshirts have earned at least one point in 45 of their 61 home games since the start of the 2015-16 season (40-16-5 record over the span).
 
ONE AND WON
Nine of the Rangers' last 18 games, including six of the team's last 12 contests, have been decided by one goal. The Blueshirts have won seven of their last nine games which were decided by one goal (7-2-0) and the team has posted an 8-5-1 record in games decided by one goal this season.
 
FIRST IN SCORE
New York has registered the first goal of the game in 22 of 39 games in 2016-17. The Rangers have posted a 16-5-1 record in games which they have recorded the first goal this season. Since Alain Vigneault became the Rangers' Head Coach at the start of the 2013-14 season, the Rangers have posted a .791 winning percentage when registering the first goal of the game (121-21-11 record over the span).
 
AV SQUAD
Alain Vigneault has coached 285 career games with the Rangers, and he is tied with Herb Brooks for seventh place on the franchise's all-time games coached list. Vigneault also enters the contest with 170 career wins as the Rangers' Head Coach, and he is one win away from tying John Tortorella for fourth place on the franchise's all-time wins list among head coaches.
 
KING HENRIK
Henrik Lundqvist earned his 390th career NHL win on Dec. 31 at Colorado, passing Dominik Hasek to become the all-time leader in wins by a European-born goaltender in NHL history. Lundqvist also passed Hasek for sole possession of 12th place on the NHL's all-time wins list. Lundqvist's next appearance would be his 712th career appearance with the Rangers, and he would pass Olaf Kolzig for the fourth-most appearances by a goaltender with one franchise in NHL history. Over his last five starts, Lundqvist has posted a 4-0-0 record, along with a 2.01 GAA and a .931 SV%. He has posted a .920 SV% or better in 15 of 25 starts in 2016-17. In addition, Lundqvist ranks fifth in the NHL in games with at least 25 saves and a .920 SV% or better in 2016-17 (14).
 
KREID-ING HIGH
Chris Kreider was selected as the NHL's Second Star of the Week for the week ending on Jan. 1, as he tallied five points (four goals, one assist) in three games during the week and tied for the NHL lead in goals over the span. He registered his second career NHL hat trick in the Rangers' last game on Dec. 31 at Colorado. Kreider tied for the NHL lead in goals in December this season (11 - tied with Sidney Crosby), and he became the first Ranger to tally 10 or more goals in one calendar month since Rick Nash in January of 2014. He enters the contest with a four-game point streak, which is tied for his career-high (six goals, two assists over the span). Kreider led the Rangers in goals during the 2016 calendar year (30). He is the only NHL player who has registered at least 50 goals, 100 points, a plus-40 rating, and 150 penalty minutes since the start of the 2014-15 season.
 
CAPTAIN MAC
Ryan McDonagh leads the Rangers in assists (23), and he leads team defensemen in points (25) in 2016-17. McDonagh is tied for fourth in the NHL - and is tied for first among NHL defensemen - in games with an assist this season (19). In addition, McDonagh is tied for third among NHL defensemen in games with a point this season (20). He is tied for first among NHL defensemen in primary assists (13), ranks second in even strength assists (15), ranks fourth in assists (23), and is tied for fourth in points (25) in 2016-17. McDonagh tied for the NHL lead in assists over the last week (five), and he led NHL defensemen in assists and points (five) during the week. He enters the contest with a four-game assist/point streak (one goal, six assists), and has tallied 11 points (one goal, 10 assists) in his last 11 games.
 
STEP-AN UP
Derek Stepan leads the Rangers in points (30) and primary assists (15) this season. He has recorded 19 points (seven goals, 12 assists) in the last 21 games, including 16 points (five goals, 11 assists) in the last 15 contests and nine points (four goals, five assists) in the last six games. Stepan is the fourth Ranger in franchise history to tally 20 or more assists in each of his first seven NHL seasons (playing all seven seasons with the Rangers), along with Ron Greschner, Brad Park, and Steve Vickers. In 83 regular season games during the 2016 calendar year, Stepan registered 70 points (25 goals, 45 assists), and he led the Rangers in assists and points during the calendar year.
 
WELCOME MATS
Mats Zuccarello enters the contest with a six-game assist/point streak (nine assists), and his six-game assist streak is a career-high. Zuccarello's six-game assist streak is the longest active assist streak in the NHL and is tied for the fifth longest assist streak in the NHL this season (Ryan McDonagh has posted the longest assist streak in the NHL this season - eight games from Oct. 17 - Nov. 1). Zuccarello has registered 14 points (one goal, 13 assists) in the last 14 games, and he leads the Rangers in even strength assists (17) and even strength points (23) in 2016-17.
 
HOLDEN STEADY
Nick Holden is tied for the NHL lead - and leads NHL defensemen - in games with a plus/minus rating this season (33). He is one of four NHL defensemen who have registered at least 20 points and a plus-16 rating this season (along with Ryan Suter, Shea Weber, and Justin Schultz).
 
HEY HEY HAYES
Kevin Hayes tied for the NHL lead in assists last week (five). He enters the contest with a three-game assist/point streak (five assists) and has registered eight assists/points over the last 10 games. Hayes is one of five NHL players who have registered at least 11 goals, 28 points, and a plus-13 rating this season. He has notched a point in 19 of the Rangers' 26 wins this season, and the Blueshirts have posted a 19-1-0 record in games which he has tallied a point this season.
 
IT'S MILLER TIME
J.T. Miller has recorded a goal and has posted a multi-point game in each of the Rangers' last two contests (three goals, one assist over the span). Miller has tallied a point in 18 of the Rangers' 26 wins this season, and the Blueshirts have posted an 18-1-0 record in games which he has tallied a point this season.
 
SPECIAL TEAMS
The Rangers are the only NHL team that has a 23.0% power play efficiency and an 84.0% penalty kill efficiency or better in 2016-17. New York has outscored its opponent on special teams in 18 games this season, and the Rangers have posted a 15-3-0 record in those contests.
 
Power Play:
The Rangers were 2-for-5 (6:48) on Dec. 31 at Colorado.
New York has tallied a power play goal in each of the last three games (7-for-16; 43.8%) and has recorded six power play goals over the last two games (6-for-12; 50.0%).
The Blueshirts rank fourth in the NHL in power play efficiency this season (23.1%; 28-for-121).
 
Penalty Kill:
The Rangers were 3-for-3 (3:22) on Dec. 31 at Colorado.
The Blueshirts rank eighth in the NHL in penalty kill efficiency this season (84.1%; 90-for-107).
The Rangers have not allowed a power play goal against in eight of the last 12 games and in 19 of the last 28 games.
New York is tied for second in the NHL in shorthanded goals in 2016-17 (five).
 
UPCOMING MILESTONES
Kevin Hayes - 3 games away from 200 in his NHL career
Ryan McDonagh - 5 points away from 200 in his NHL career
 
INJURIES (93 Man-Games Lost to Injury)

  • Pavel Buchnevich (back) - has missed 24 games
  • Mika Zibanejad (broken fibula) - has missed 20 games
  • Rick Nash (groin) - has missed five games

RECENT TRANSACTIONS

  • Dec. 28 - Assigned Brandon Halverson to Hartford (AHL)
  • Dec. 27 - Recalled Brandon Halverson from Hartford (AHL)

THIS DAY IN RANGERS HISTORY

  • Jan. 2, 2012 - The Rangers defeated the Philadelphia Flyers, 3-2, in the 2012 NHL Winter Classic at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia. Henrik Lundqvist made 34 saves, including one on a penalty shot attempt by the Flyers' Daniel Briere with 19.6 seconds remaining in regulation to seal the win for the Rangers.
  • Jan. 3, 1968 - Ron Stewart skated in his 1,000th career NHL game as the Rangers tied the Boston Bruins, 5-5, at MSG.
  • Jan. 3, 1971 - Dave Balon registered two goals, including the game-winning goal with 55 seconds remaining in regulation, as the Rangers defeated the Montreal Canadiens, 6-5, at MSG.
  • Jan. 3, 1973 - Ed Giacomin registered his 41st career shutout with the Rangers, passing Dave Kerr to become the franchise's all-time shutouts leader. Giacomin made 26 saves as the Rangers defeated the Los Angeles Kings, 3-0, at MSG. Giacomin earned 49 shutouts with the Rangers in his career and remained the franchise's all-time leader in shutouts until Henrik Lundqvist broke his record in 2014.
  • Jan. 3, 1979 - Six different Rangers registered a goal against Ken Dryden and the Blueshirts snapped the Canadiens' 15-game unbeaten streak, defeating Montreal, 6-2, at MSG.
  • Jan. 3, 1987 - Don Maloney tied a single-game franchise record by recording five assists in a 5-2 Rangers win against the Quebec Nordiques.
  • Jan. 3, 1994 - The Rangers hosted the Florida Panthers for the first time, and defeated Florida, 3-2, at MSG. The Rangers held pre-game ceremonies to recognize Mike Gartner's 600th career NHL goal, as well as Mark Messier's 1,000th career NHL game and 800th career NHL assist.
  • Jan. 3, 1996 - Ray Ferraro recorded a hat trick, and Mark Messier, Alexei Kovalev, and Luc Robitaille all registered three points in a 7-4 Blueshirts win over the Montreal Canadiens at MSG. Messier passed Bryan Trottier for sole possession of sixth place on the NHL's all-time points list in the contest.
  • Jan. 3, 1998 - Wayne Gretzky tallied two goals, including the game-winning goal with 22 seconds remaining in regulation, and Dan Cloutier earned his first career NHL win while making his first career NHL appearance as the Rangers defeated the Washington Capitals, 3-2.
  • · Jan. 3, 2015 - The Rangers registered a goal on three consecutive power plays in a span of 2:32 in a 6-1 win against the Buffalo Sabres at MSG. Thirteen different Rangers tallied a point in the contest.
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