Mon, 19 Apr 2021

Rangers, Sabres square off in search of offense

Field Level Media
02 Mar 2021, 08:05 GMT+10

While the New York Rangers spent the weekend getting mixed results against the Boston Bruins, the Buffalo Sabres endured a lost weekend that saw them struggle to find the back of the net.

The Rangers hope to rebound from a disappointing nationally televised loss to the Bruins while the Sabres arehoping to end a lengthy scoreless streak Tuesday night when the teams get together at Madison Square Garden.

The Rangers have spent recent weeks hovering around .500 but have been unable to get to the break-even point. They are 3-2 in their last five games following a four-game (0-3-1) stretch from Feb. 8-16, and each loss was a missed opportunity to reach .500.

New York followed a strong performance from Friday's 6-2 win with a dud, taking a 4-1 loss on Sunday. The Rangers tied a season low with 21 shots on goal. They were 0-for-3 on the power play after going 5-for-19 in their previous four games when they scored 16 goals.

"We didn't have enough offensive scoring opportunities," New York defenseman Brendan Smith said. "A lot of times, when teams are against the gun, they're going to bring their best foot forward. We have to be a little bit more gritty and get to those areas -- those tough areas. And it's hard to get there, but that's how you create offense. We didn't do enough of that.

Alexandar Georgiev allowed two of the goals Sunday. He missed the final 15 minutes of the first period after Boston's Nick Ritchie fell on his head, causing the goaltender's left eye to bleed. He returned to make 31 saves.

Buffalo is starting a five-game trip and hoping to find some offense. The Sabres enter Tuesday without a goal in 125 minutes, 47 seconds since Sam Reinhart scored a power-play goal in Thursday's 4-3 overtime loss to the New Jersey Devils. The Sabres endured consecutive 3-0 shutouts to the Philadelphia Flyers over the weekend. They were 0-for-6 on the power play and were outshot 77-51.

The rough weekend is part of an extended struggle for Buffalo. Starting with a 5-3 loss to New Jersey on Jan. 31 -- followed by a two-week pause due to COVID-19 -- the Sabres are 2-7-1 in their past 10 games. They have been blanked three times in that span and held under 30 shots on goal six games.

"I'm very embarrassed," Buffalo defenseman Rasmus Dahlin said after Sunday's loss. "This is not acceptable. This is the -- it (stinks). It's the worst."

Buffalo's 44 goals are second worst in the league, and only three have come from Jack Eichel and Taylor Hall.

Eichel returned Sunday from missing two games with a lower-body injury and has not scored in his last nine games. Hall has 11 assists but his only goal was in the season opener against the Washington Capitals on Jan. 14.

"Everyone's gripping their stick right now," Eichel said. "We haven't really been able to build momentum and play with any confidence. It seems like we're kind of just holding on every game. It's been tough."

The teams traded a pair of 3-2 victories Jan. 26 and 28 in Buffalo. New York is 8-3-0 in the past 11 meetings.

--Field Level Media

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