The New York Rangers play host to the last-place Buffalo Sabres once again on Tuesday. The Rangers (25-18-6) are coming off a 6-3 victory over Buffalo (13-29-7) on Sunday.
Mika Zibanejad led the way for the Rangers, scoring a hat trick and bringing his goal tally to 19. Sam Reinhart scored once and had an assist in Buffalo’s loss. The Rangers have won two in a row.
If you’re betting on this game, the NHL odds have the Rangers with a moneyline of -300, while the Sabres are at +250. The over/under for the game has been set at six goals.
Panarin on Roll
Rangers left wing Artemi Panarin has been on fire lately with at least one point in seven of his last eight games. The 29-year-old Russian superstar has 56 points in 38 games.
Alex Lafrenierie hasn’t had quite the rookie season we expected, but the latest No. 1 overall draft pick has three points in his last two games.
Kaapo Kakko has regressed in his second year in the league with only eight goals in 33 games. Kakko was drafted second overall in the 2019 draft behind New Jersey center Jack Hughes. Veteran forward Chris Kreider co-leads the Rangers in goals with 20, tied with wing Pavel Buchnevich.
Igor Shesterkin will most likely get the start for the Rangers on Tuesday. Shesterkin has easily been New York’s best option in net, as the former KHL star boasts a 2.47 goals-against average and a .919 save percentage along with two shutouts.
Sabres Missing Star Captain
Buffalo captain Jack Eichel hasn’t played in a game since March 7 as he continues to deal with a herniated disk in his neck. Eichel is expected to be fully healthy for next season.
The Sabres tied an NHL record with 18 straight losses the same month they lost Eichel and have since tanked even more, shipping forwards Eric Staal and Taylor Hall to different teams at the trade deadline.
Without Eichel, Staal and Hall, Buffalo Sabres will turn to forwards Reinhart and Victor Olofsson going forward. Reinhart leads the Sabres in goals with 21, and Olofsson is second in team points with 29.
Veterans Kyle Okposo and Jeff Skinner have both had disastrous seasons. Okposo only has two goals and Skinner has a mere 11 points in 46 games.
Goaltenders Carter Hutton and Linus Ullmark are both injured for the Sabres, so Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen is expected to get his second start of the season. The 22-year-old Finnish netminder was drafted in the second round by Buffalo in 2017 and made his first NHL appearance on April 23 versus the Boston Bruins, where he stopped 36 out of 40 shots.
Including Sunday’s game, the Rangers and Sabres have played six times, with the Rangers winning five of them.
New York is 13-8-3 at Madison Square Garden, while the Sabres are 7-13-3 when playing on the road.
For the Rangers, defenseman Jacob Trouba is listed out for Tuesday’s game with an upper-body injury. Okposo is out for the rest of the season after taking a puck to the face a little over a week ago.
With seven games remaining in the regular season for New York, the Rangers are four points back of fourth seed Boston, but the Bruins have two games in hand. Although it would take a pretty good miracle to get to the postseason, the Rangers are not mathematically out of it, so expect the intensity and effort to be there against the last-place Sabres.