The New York Rangers and the Buffalo Sabres will do battle for the final time this season with the Rangers needing to get another two points against the bottom of the East Division (7:00 P.M. ET, MSG).

RangersEast Division Ranks /8Sabres
5thEast Ranking8th

               If results go in the Rangers favor once again, the Blueshirts could find themselves just two points back of the Boston Bruins who are in Pittsburgh on Tuesday night. The Blueshirts defeated the Sabres 6-3 on Sunday night and close the gap to four points. Mika Zibanejad led the way recording his third hat trick of the season. Zibanejad became the only player in the NHL to record three hat tricks and the Rangers became the only team to have six hat tricks on the season. Kaapo Kakko recorded a two-goal game which continues to justify his improvement from his rookie season. Igor Shesterkin recorded 31 saves for his 14th win of the season.

               Late in the third period, Colin Blackwell fell awkwardly into the boards and play was stopped for him to receive medical treatment. Blackwell appeared to be in serious discomfort at the time but it appears that he is okay. Blackwell took a maintenance day at practice on Monday and his status is day-to-day. Head coach David Quinn said Blackwell is expected to be available for Tuesday night’s game. If Blackwell is unavailable, expect Vitaly Kravtsov to join the Panarin line with Phil Di Giuseppe skating in on the fourth line.

               Buffalo continues to play hard under interim head coach Don Granato and they continue to play hard hockey. If the Rangers can beat them one more time, they’ll be their biggest fans for their next two games as they travel to Boston for two games. The Sabres took one from Boston prior to playing the Rangers and should feel confident that they can beat them again. With everyone under scrutiny on the Sabres, they’ll continue to play hard as they look to impress the coaches and management.

               Sam Reinhart leads the Sabres in scoring and he blasted one by Shesterkin on Sunday. Reinhart has 35 points on the season and he has been heating up as of late. He has five points in his last two games and has recorded at least a point in five of the past seven games. Shutting Reinhart down will be a top priority for the Blueshirts defense.

               Getting his second career start will be Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen for the Sabres. Luukkonen made his NHL debut against the Bruins and won it 6-4. The 22-year-old made 36 saves in his first career home start. Now he will start his first away game under the bright lights of Madison Square Garden.

               The Rangers will go right back to Shesterkin as he continues to carry the load for the Rangers since returning from a groin injury. Shesterkin has started 14 of the last 18 games for the Blueshirts and is slated to make that 15 of 19.

               The push for the playoffs is coming down to the wire and winning every game is becoming a must-win. Boston is four points ahead with two games in hand. If somehow the Rangers can enter Boston for their final two games of the season with the same number of points for the Bruins, then they’ll essentially be playing in playoff games. It is important to remember that the Bruins will play the Islanders and Capitals in make-up games due to COVID-19. The magic number for Boston to clinch a playoff spot in the East remains at 71. Regulation and overtime wins (ROW) is the first tie-breaker among teams tied for points. The Rangers currently have one more ROW than Boston and currently hold the tiebreaker. As long as the Rangers continue to win games, the number to clinch a playoff spot will remain at 71.

Projected Lineup