Series (Game 2 of 4)

Buffalo leads 3-1

Game 1: Saturday, December 5th
Game 2: Saturday, December 12th
Game 3: Sunday, March 7th
Game 4: Tuesday, April 6th

Sabres 3

(19-9-2, 40 pts)

Rangers 2

(14-15-2, 30 pts)

7:00 PM ET, December 12, 2009

Madison Square Garden, New York, New York

1 2 3 T
BUF 2 1 03
NYR 2 0 02

R. Miller (Sabres - G): Saves: 36, Save Pct.: .947

P. Kaleta (Sabres - RW): Goals: 2, Assists: 0

M. Gaborik (Rangers - RW): Goals: 1, Assists: 1

Sabres-Rangers Preview


Apart from Marian Gaborik, the New York Rangers are having trouble putting the puck in the net. Coach John Tortorella, though, sees a bigger problem.

Tortorella wants more competitiveness from his club on both ends of the ice Saturday night against the surging Buffalo Sabres.

New York (14-14-2) had a season high-tying seven goals in a home win over Columbus on Nov. 23, but has scored just 11 times since en route to a 2-4-1 record.

In a 2-1 overtime loss Wednesday in Chicago, Henrik Lundqvist let in the tying goal off a scramble in front with 5:55 remaining in regulation, and allowed Dustin Byfuglien to score 3:43 into the extra frame. Lundqvist made 30 saves through the first two periods, finishing with a season-high 39.

The notoriously fiery Tortorella singled out Lundqvist -- saying he was the only one prepared.

"He was the one who played. He was about the only one who played," Tortorella said. "My concern tonight is just a level of competing, which was horrid as far as I'm concerned. It was unacceptable. ... If guys thought they were trying tonight, they're in for a rude awakening."

Chris Higgins scored for the Rangers, who shook up their roster Thursday when they demoted rookie defenseman Matt Gilroy to Hartford of the AHL. Gilroy, the reigning Hobey Baker Award winner, couldn't stop the lumbering 6-foot-4, 257-pound Byfuglien on his end-to-end rush for the winning goal.

"I don't care if he wants to go (to the minors) or not, this is how a young player is handled when there are bumps in the road," Tortorella said.

Lundqvist had one of his best games this season playing in Buffalo on Dec. 5. He carried a shutout into the final minute, totaling 36 saves in the Rangers' 2-1 win to improve to 6-2-0 with a 2.24 goals-against average in his last eight starts against the Sabres.

New York has dropped seven of 11 at home after beginning the season with four straight wins, and Tortorella said Friday that the Rangers' lack of scoring is putting extra pressure on the defense.

"It forces us to play almost a perfect game sometimes, and rely on Henrik in certain situations," he said.

One who has carried the offense is the oft-injured Gaborik, who has stayed healthy during his first season with New York. The Minnesota Wild's all-time leading scorer has notched 12 of his league-high 21 goals -- nearly 25 percent of New York's total -- over the last nine games at Madison Square Garden, but the Rangers have gone 3-6-0. Vinny Prospal and Ales Kotalik are tied for second on the club with six goals.

The Rangers have tallied 22 goals while going 4-1-2 in their last seven against Buffalo at MSG.

Buffalo's Ryan Miller, the league-leader with a 1.82 GAA, was rested in Friday's 2-1 win over Chicago, presumably to start this game. Miller's four shutouts ties him with Phoenix's Ilya Bryzgalov for tops in the NHL, and he's 3-2-1 with a 2.65 GAA over six career starts in New York City.

Patrick Lalime made 39 saves against the Blackhawks for his first win of the season, and was backed by second-period goals from Thomas Vanek and Clarke MacArthur. With its sixth win in eight games, Buffalo (18-9-2) moved past idle Boston into first place in the Northeast Division.

"The goaltenders are a big part of our success this year so far, and Pat was the difference tonight, for sure," Buffalo captain Craig Rivet said. "We've got huge smiles on our faces for him."

Vanek, who ended a five-game goal-scoring drought, has three goals and an assist in his last three road games against the Rangers.