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FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS

Friday, 03.23.2012 / 12:21 PM
By Kevin Snow - Sabres.com (@kwsnow) / THE MORNING SKATE
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THE MORNING SKATE
FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS

LINEUP NEWS
- Optional morning skate today; Lindy Ruff didn’t speak to the media this morning.
- Ryan Miller expected to start in goal; 12-5-4 all-time vs. NYR, 2.26 GAA & .925 save%
- Miller is 6-2-2 all-time at MSG: 2.35 GAA/.923 save%
- Nathan Gerbe remains out with an upper body muscle strain.



SCHEDULE BREAKDOWN
Washington – 8th place (81 pts., 37-30-7)
Games Remaining: 8
Games vs. Teams Currently in Playoff Contention: 3
Next Game: Tonight vs. Winnipeg
Home Games: 5 (WPG, MINN, BUF, MTL, FLA)
Away Games: 3 (BOS, TB, NYR)
Back-to-Back Games: 1 (3/22 @ PHIL, 3/23 vs. WPG)
Last Game: April 7 @ NY Rangers

Buffalo – 9th place (80 pts., 35-29-10)
Games Remaining: 8
Games vs. Teams Currently in Playoff Contention: 5
Next Game: Tonight @ NY Rangers
Home Games: 3 (MINN, PITT, TOR)
Away Games: 5 (NYR, WASH, TOR, PHIL, BOS)
Back-to-Back Games: 2 (3/23 @ NYR, 3/24 @ MINN; 3/30 VS. PITT, 3/31 @ TOR)
Last Game: April 7 @ Boston

Winnipeg – 10th place (76 pts., 34-31-8)
Games Remaining: 9
Games vs. Teams Currently in Playoff Contention: 5
Next Game: Tonight @ Washington
Home Games: 3 (OTT, NYR, TB)
Away Games: 6 (WASH, NASH, CAR, TB, FLA, NYI)
Back-to-Back Games: 2 (3/23 @ WSH, 3/24 @ NSH; 3/30 @ CAR, 3/31 @ TB)
Last Game: April 7 vs. Tampa Bay



TONIGHT’S GAME
SABRES at RANGERS

- Fourth and final meeting between the Sabres and Rangers this season.
- Last game: New York defeated Buffalo, 3-2 (OT), in New York on Feb. 25.
- The Sabres are 5-2-3 in their last 10 games vs. the Rangers; 5-3-2 on the road.
- 162nd game all-time between Sabres and Rangers; Buffalo leads the series with a 76-53-32 record. Buffalo is 30-30-19 on the road against the Rangers all-time.

STORYLINES
- Buffalo enters the day one point out of a playoff spot after beginning the day on Feb. 17 in 14th place in the Eastern Conference and 10 points out of eighth in the Eastern Conference. Since then, they’ve gone 11-2-4 (.765), trailing only Pittsburgh for the league's best record during that stretch.
- The Sabres have gotten a point in seven of their last eight games (5-1-2) and 15 of their last 17 (11-2-4).
- Buffalo will look to avoid a season sweep by the Rangers for the first time since 2007-08 (0-3-1).
- Drew Stafford (2+0) and Thomas Vanek (1+1) each have two points in two games against the Rangers this season. Ryan Miller is 12-5-4 against New York in his career with a 2.27 GAA (0-0-2, 1.41 GAA this year).

THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW
Buffalo is 28-3-2 when allowing two or fewer goals and 26-4-4 when scoring three or more… Ryan Miller has five shutouts in his last 23 games; his total of six this season is a career best, after he registered five in each of the last three seasons… Cody Hodgson has four points (2+2) in his last two games; Jason Pominville has five points (3+2) in his last five.

ON THE ROAD AGAIN
Cody Hodgson is on pace to play 83 games this season, including 48 on the road. According to Elias Sports Bureau, Hodgson’s 48 road games in one season would be an NHL record. The current record is 47, held by Darryl Sydor (1995-96) and Niklas Hagman (2005-06). The most road games by a player who spent part of the season in Buffalo is currently 46 (Mike Foligno, 1981-82).

LET'S PLAY TWO
Tonight’s game opens up Buffalo’s 20th of a league-high 21 sets of back-to-back games this season. The Sabres are 12-7-0 in the first game and 6-8-5 in the second. The Sabres’ points breakdown in back-to-back sets is as follows: four points (3), three points (2), two points (10), one point (3) and zero points (1). Buffalo continues this set tomorrow vs. Minnesota.

EVERYBODY’S CHIPPING IN
The Sabres have gotten goals from 28 different scorers this season, second most in the league (Columbus, 30). The Sabres last had 28 or more goal scorers in 1992-93, when they had 29. Buffalo’s franchise record is 30, set in 1986-87 and matched in 1987-88 and 1991-92.

JUST HOW HE DREW IT UP
Drew Stafford has nine points (2+7) in his last five games. The most prolific five-game stretch of Stafford’s career saw him notch 10 points (9+1) from Feb. 5 to Feb. 15, 2011. The only other time he had at least nine points in five games was from Jan. 18 to Jan. 29, 2008 (5+4).

ENNIS IS ON FIRE
Tyler Ennis has 17 points (7+10) in his last 18 games. The Sabres are 12-1-5 when Ennis records a point this season and 39-9-9 when he tallies a point in his career.

FINISHING STRONG AFTER THE BREAK
Buffalo is 541-400-185 (.563) all-time in games after the All-Star break. This includes a record of 90-47-23 (.634) in those games since the lockout. The Sabres are 15-5-5 (.700) since the 2012 NHL All-Star Game. These totals do not include games after breaks for the Olympic Games.

BATTLING BACK
The Sabres began the day on Feb. 17 in 14th place in the Eastern Conference and 10 points out of a playoff spot after a 7-2 loss at PHI the night before. Since then, the team has gone 11-2-4. Only one team in NHL history has overcome a 10 point deficit this late in the season, when the New York Islanders rallied from a 10-point hole on Feb. 18, 1994 to snag eighth place in the conference.

SCHEDULE

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