New York (13-13-1) at Buffalo (16-7-2)

Mostly Cloudy Currently: Buffalo, NY
Temp: 66° F
  • Game info: 7:00 pm EST Sat Dec 5, 2009
  • TV: MSG
Preview | Box Score | Recap

The Buffalo Sabres know they are playing well and want to take full advantage of a five-game homestand to continue that trend.

The Sabres will try for a season-high fifth straight win Saturday night when they try to hand the sliding New York Rangers a fourth straight loss.

Buffalo (25-16-7) opened this stretch at HSBC Arena on Thursday with a 6-2 win over Montreal as Clarke MacArthur(notes), Jason Pominville(notes) and Derek Roy(notes) scored first-period goals.

“We wanted to come strong, which we did,” Pominville said. “We’re playing five games in a row here at home and we want to establish that we’re a good home team, a team that’s hard to play at home. We didn’t really give them any opportunities until the third.”

The Sabres have scored 18 goals during their winning streak while the Rangers (13-13-1) have allowed 18 in their last three games. Buffalo went 3-1 against New York last season, getting two goals and three assists from Roy.

Those are the same totals Roy has during Buffalo’s run. Pominville also has five points in that span and Mike Grier(notes) four.

The Sabres had a 29-8 edge in shots through two periods against the Canadiens. Grier, Andrej Sekera(notes) and Tim Kennedy(notes) also scored.

“I think we did a great job with the puck,” coach Lindy Ruff said. “The one thing we talked about as a team was preparation. I think they did their job. They came to play and came to play hard.”

Buffalo has gotten five goals apiece from its top three lines over the last four games.

“I think it’s important in this league that you get some balanced scoring,” Ruff told the Sabres’ official Web site. “You need your top guys to push, though.”

Ryan Miller(notes) made 21 saves Thursday and his 1.84 goals-against average continues to lead the league. Miller is 8-3-2 with a 2.38 GAA in 13 career starts against the Rangers, including three straight wins.

New York hasn’t received good goaltending in its slide. Henrik Lundqvist(notes) had a 5.25 GAA in two losses in that stretch and Steve Valiquette made one start and entered in relief of Lundqvist once, posting a 6.17 GAA.

Valiquette has been assigned to Hartford of the AHL, with goaltender Chad Johnson(notes) and defenseman Ilkka Heikkinen(notes) being recalled. The Rangers also acquired Erik Christensen(notes) off waivers from Anaheim and he’ll center a line with Chris Higgins and struggling former Sabre Ales Kotalik(notes).

Christensen failed to record a point in nine games with Anaheim this season.

“I watched him in practice and you can see that he can skate and you can see that he has some skill,” coach John Tortorella told the Rangers’ official Web site. “But you have to play in games. That’s where you judge your people. He’ll be in the lineup and we’ll see where it goes from there.”

Kotalik, who spent his first six-plus seasons with Buffalo, will face the Sabres for the first time. He was traded to Edmonton on March 4 for a second-round draft pick before he became a free agent and signed a three-year, $9 million deal with New York.

Kotalik has one point in his last seven games and logged a season-low 3 minutes, 14 seconds of ice time Monday in a 5-2 loss to Pittsburgh.

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