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Sabres Visit Rangers in Must-Win Matchup

Game 79

Buffalo Sabres (39-32-7) vs. New York Rangers (47-21-12)

Puck Drop: 7:00 PM EST Madison Square Garden New York, NY

TV: MSG

Radio: WGR-550

Know Your Opponent

New York Rangers

Record: (47-21-12)

Last Game: 4-0 shutout win against the Columbus Blue Jackets

Division Ranking: 3rd in the Metropolitan Division

PP: 23.65% (9th)

PK: 80.91% (13th)

What to Watch

1.   Can Sabres Beat Rangers in April?

The Blue and Gold cling to slim wild card playoff hopes and have to prevail against the Rangers at the Garden to move on to any possible postseason. New York was the victor in most of their recent meetings with Buffalo, winning six of their last eight games.

However, the Sabres beat the Rangers in their last matchup, with a 3-2 overtime win. Since the past three games between these opponents all went to OT, Buffalo needs to play 60 minutes of strong, aggressive hockey to keep the hosts from getting two points.

2.   Both Teams Healthy, Should be a Close Contest

Sabres goaltender Craig Anderson is expected to be out until at least the day of the game, while the Rangers have nobody on IR, according to Cbssports. With two healthy sides, this matchup should be hard fought and evenly matched until the final whistle blows.

Whoever wins this one will be the side that wants it the most. If Buffalo really hopes to end their playoff drought this season, the team will perform the way they did in Devon Levi’s debut game, playing aggressively in their opponents’ zone and shutting down New York’s offensive chances. Other NHL teams could still keep Buffalo out of the postseason regardless of tonight’s outcome, but every point in the standings counts right now.

3.   Bet on the Visiting Underdogs

The Sabres head into this meeting as underdogs, but you’ll get great value betting on them, according to Carol Schram of Action Network.com. Sabres coach Don Granato has been coy about who starts in net for Buffalo, but Schram thinks it’ll be Devon Levi. Levi already has a 3-1-0 win record and 2.0 goals saved above expected.

Also, previously injured players including Rasmus Dahlin and Tage Thompson are healthy and playing great hockey.  The Rangers are tough adversaries, but Schram believes the Sabres will play desperately, giving it all they’ve got to try to make a playoff run. Wager on Buffalo and enjoy a big payout if they win.

Projected Lineups

Buffalo Sabres

Forwards

Jeff Skinner – Casey Mittelstadt – Alex Tuch

Jordan Greenway – Dylan Cozens – Tage Thompson

JJ Peterka – Tyson Jost – Jack Quinn

Zemgus Girgensons – Peyton Krebs – Kyle Okposo

Defense

Mattias Samuelsson – Rasmus Dahlin

Owen Power – Henri Jokiharju

Riley Stillman – Ilya lyubushkin

Goaltenders: Devon Levi (likely), Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen, Eric Comrie

New York Rangers

Forwards

Alexis Lafreniere – Filip Chytil – Kaapo Kaako

Chris Kreider – Mika Zibanejad – Patrick Kane

Artemi Panarin – Vicent Trocheck – Vladimir Tarasenko

Jimmy Vesey – Barclay Goodrow – Tyler Motte

Defense

Adam Fox -Ryan Lindgren

Jacob Trouba – K’Andre Miller

Braden Schneider – Niko Mikkola

Goaltenders: Igor Shesterkin (likely), Jaroslav Halak