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Dahlin back in lineup against Rangers

Defenseman has missed 2 games with upper-body injury

by Jourdon LaBarber @jourdonlabarber /

NEW YORK - Rasmus Dahlin will be back in the lineup for the Sabres when they visit the New York Rangers tonight at Madison Square Garden. 

Dahlin has missed the past two games with an upper-body injury. He will step in for Lawrence Pilut, who will be scratched on defense along with Zach Bogosian. 

Dahlin recorded nine points in his last 10 games prior to the injury. The 19-year-old has 74 points through his first 126 NHL games, trailing only Phil Housley (132), Ray Bourque (79), and Rick Hampton (76) for most points ever by a teenage defenseman. 

"He's really important," Sabres coach Ralph Krueger said. "I mean, that's the genius that you need in the National Hockey League today. It's a game of percentages and again today, it's a game where you need to expect a one-goal game in one way or another. 

"To tip it in our favor, it's percentage points, and players like Dahlin can give you those percentage points whether it's on the power play or even 5-on-5 play. What we like about Rasmus is just how much better he has gotten through this season defensively. His game away from the puck is improving game by game so of course it's a nice addition.

Video: Ralph Krueger Pregame Interview

The Sabres are looking to rebound from their 4-3 shootout loss to Detroit on Thursday, their fourth loss in five games since returning from the All-Star break. All five of those games were played at KeyBank Center, with four more at home due up after tonight. 

Carter Hutton will start in net. He's 4-2-0 in his career against the Rangers with a .928 save percentage and a 2.19 goals-against average.


Scouting the Rangers

The name that immediately pops out in the New York lineup is that of winger Artemi Panarin, who has been every bit the player the Rangers hoped for when they signed him to a seven-year, $81.5 million contract during the summer. Panarin ranks fifth in the NHL with 71 points. 

Beyond Panarin, what sticks out is how much offense the Rangers have generated from their back end. Tony DeAngelo ranks fifth among league defensemen with 41 points and seventh with 12 goals. Jacob Trouba and Brady Skjei have seven goals each; Adam Fox has six. 

The Rangers have received more goals (38) and points (142) from their defensemen than any other team. After falling in this building 6-2 back in October, Krueger said limiting turnovers will be crucial to limiting their opponents' attack. 

"It's having better puck management to not feed into their really lethal speed and offense," Krueger said. "They really attack you as a group. We're looking forward to this challenge. We feel that we understand what we need to do better than when we were here last time, and now it's just about applying that and reacting to the disappointing loss last night with the right principles."

Alexandar Georgiev will start in net for the Rangers. He's 12-10-1 with a .909 save percentage this season.  


Tune in 

Coverage on MSG begins at 6:30 p.m. You can also listen to the game on WGR 550, with puck drop scheduled for 7. 

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