The New York Rangers managed to conclude 2016 with three consecutive wins. They’ll hope that streak continues into the new year, when they take on the Buffalo Sabres tonight at Madison Square Garden (7:00, MSG/NBCSN).
The most recent of the Rangers’ victories came in a 6-2 final on New Year’s Eve, defeating the Colorado Avalanche. Christ Kreider closed the year in style, notching a hat trick, his first since November 2013, while JT Miller added a pair, and Jimmy Vesey added the last. History was made for Henrik Lundqvist, who stopped 25 shots. The win, which gave Lundqvist 390 for his NHL career, helped him pass Dominik Hasek to become the winningest European goaltender in NHL history. Hasek played for Buffalo from 1992-01. This season, Lundqvist is 16-8-1, and is expected to return to net tonight. It allowed the Rangers (26-12-1) to sweep a pair on the western side of the country from Arizona and Colorado.
Buffalo (13-15-8) ended 2016 on a sour note, falling 3-1 to the Boston Bruins on Saturday. The Sabres fell behind 3-0 before the midway mark, and mustered only a second period goal by Kyle Okposo.
This will be the second meeting of the season between the two New York teams, with the Sabres winning 4-3 on December 1. Jack Eichel, who was playing in his second game of the season, had two goals in the third period, erasing a 3-2 Rangers lead. Defensemen Ryan McDonagh and Marc Staal had goals for the Rangers, as did Rick Nash. The two teams will meet for a third and final time in Buffalo on February 2.
Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffMags5490