NEW YORK -- Two lottery-bound Eastern Conference teams will be looking to snap losing streaks Saturday night when the New York Rangers host the Buffalo Sabres at Madison Square Garden.
Both the Rangers and Sabres enter Saturday with three straight losses. Buffalo will be playing the second game of a back-to-back set after being blanked Friday by the visiting Montreal Canadiens 3-0. New York last played Thursday, when it fell to the host Philadelphia Flyers 4-3.
The shutout loss Friday was the second in the last three games for the Sabres (23-39-12), whose 58 points are the fewest in the NHL. The patience of head coach Phil Housley is running thin with Buffalo in danger of finishing last in the league for the third time in the last five seasons.
"I think it's about time our leadership group stood up now," Housley told reporters Friday night. "I challenged them (Thursday) and it definitely wasn't the response I was looking for.
"Some guys like to put things in their own hands and think that's going to work. Well, it hasn't."
While the three-game skid for the rebuilding Rangers (32-34-8) has dropped them to the verge of playoff elimination -- the "tragic number" is five points following the New Jersey Devils' 4-3 overtime win over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday night -- New York has been competitive since the trade deadline. Its last five losses have been by two goals or fewer.
Against the Flyers on Thursday, the Rangers twice fell behind by two goals and pulled within one both times, though they could not record the equalizer.
"Thought there was a lot of fight and compete on our team tonight," New York head coach Alain Vigneault said following the game. "We got down, we battled to come back, we made it a one-goal game in the second, made it a one-goal game after they scored early in the third. Our guys competed, but we came up short."