Get your game notes: Flyers at Sabres

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Tonight on NBCSN, it’s the Buffalo Sabres hosting the Philadelphia Flyers, starting at 7:30 p.m. ET. Following are some game notes, as compiled by the NHL on NBC research team:

— Former Islander coach (2006-2008) Ted Nolan has been Buffalo’s interim head coach since Nov. 15. Ron Rolston (coach) and Darcy Regier (GM) were let go on Nov. 13 after a 4-15-1 start. On January 9th Sabres president of hockey operations Pat Lafontaine, who was brought on with Nolan, hired Tim Murray as general manager. Nolan coached Buffalo from 1995-1997; the Sabres have gone 9-11-4 since he took over. Buffalo has now had three different coaches between last season and this season after having one (Lindy Ruff) from 1997-2013.

— PHI & BUF are two of the four teams who have made coaching changes in the middle of this season:

Oct. 7: Peter Laviolette, Flyers (replaced by Craig Berube)

Nov. 8: Kevin Dineen, Panthers (replaced by Peter Horachek)

Nov. 13: Ron Rolston, Sabres (replaced by Ted Nolan on interim basis)

Jan. 12: Claude Noel, Jets (replaced by Paul Maurice)

— The Flyers recently wrapped up a 6-game road trip (T-season long) and a stretch of 14 of 18 away from home, Nov. 30-Jan. 7 … they went 11-5-2 during that 18-game span. Coming off of a 4-1 loss at NYR on Sun., Philly (11-11-4 on the road) is one of three teams (Washington, Minnesota) that currently sit in a playoff spot without a winning road record.

— From 1993-2013, Sabres goaltenders posted 111 shutouts (5th most in the NHL). This season, however, the Sabres are one of only two teams that have failed to shut out an opponent (Florida). They rank in the middle of the pack (15th) in goals allowed per game this season however (2.70) and have surrendered one goal in each of their last three games (2-0-1 record).

— The home team has won the last six meetings between Philadelphia and Buffalo, all in regulation. If the Sabres win tonight, they will match the longest active home win streak in a series by two NHL teams (regulation only), held by the Flyers and Blue Jackets. (Elias Sports Bureau)

Consecutive meetings won by home team in series

Philadelphia Flyers / Columbus Blue Jackets 7

*Philadelphia Flyers / Buffalo Sabres 6

San Jose Sharks / Minnesota Wild 6

Phoenix Coyotes / Los Angeles Kings 6

New York Islanders / Edmonton Oilers 6

Nashville Predators / Calgary Flames 6

— Buffalo (6-0-2 in their last 8 home games) sit only behind Anaheim (19-0-2) and Pittsburgh (12-0-0) for the longest active home-ice points streaks in the league.

— When center Vincent Lecavalier assisted on Philadelphia’s only goal in Sunday’s loss to the Rangers, he became only the fourth player to collect his 500th career assist as a member of the Flyers. Bobby Clarke, Rick Tocchet, Chris Pronger are the others. After 14 seasons with Tampa Bay, Lecavalier, 33, has 9 goals and 9 assists on the season with the Flyers thus far. (Elias Sports Bureau)

Rangers punch playoff ticket to wrap up night of clinched spots

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The New York Rangers weren’t ecstatic that Chris Tierney‘s 4-4 goal sent their game to overtime against the San Jose Sharks, but either way, getting beyond regulation punched their ticket to the playoffs on Tuesday night.

For the seventh season in a row, the Rangers are in the NHL’s postseason. They fell to the Sharks 5-4 in overtime, so they haven’t locked down the first wild-card spot in the East … yet. It seems like a matter of time, however.

The Rangers have now made the playoffs in 11 of their last 12 tries, a far cry from the barren stretch where the Rangers failed to make the playoffs from 1997-98 through 2003-04 (with the lockout season punctuating the end of that incompetent era).

New York has pivoted from the John Tortorella days to the Vigneault era, and this season has been especially interesting as they reacted to a 2016 first-round loss to the Penguins by instituting a more attacking style. The Metropolitan Division’s greatness has overshadowed, to some extent, how dramatic the improvement has been.

This result seems like a tidy way to discuss Tuesday’s other events.

The drama ends up being low for the Rangers going forward, and while there might be a shortage of life-or-death playoff struggles, the battles for seeding look to be fierce.

Oilers end NHL’s longest playoff drought; Sharks, Ducks also clinch

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There’s something beautiful about the symmetry on Tuesday … unless you’re a Detroit Red Wings fans, maybe.

On the same night that the longest active NHL playoff streak ended at 25 for Detroit, the longest playoff drought concluded when the Edmonton Oilers clinched a postseason spot by beating the Los Angeles Kings 2-1.

The Oilers haven’t reached the playoffs since 2005-06, when Chris Pronger lifted them to Game 7 of the 2006 Stanley Cup Final.

In doing so, other dominoes fell. Both the Anaheim Ducks and San Jose Sharks also punched their tickets to the postseason.

The Sharks, of course, hope to exceed last season’s surprising run to the 2016 Stanley Cup Final.

Meanwhile, the Anaheim Ducks continue their run of strong postseasons, even as their Cup win fades to the background ever so slightly. All three teams are currently vying for the Pacific Division title.

The Western Conference’s eight teams are dangerously close to being locked into place, as the Nashville Predators, Calgary Flames and St. Louis Blues are all close to looking down their spots as well.

Want the East perspective? Check out this summary of Tuesday’s events from the perspective of the other conference.

Craig Anderson took his blunder hard – probably too hard – in Sens loss

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Members of the Ottawa Senators were quick to come to Craig Anderson‘s blunder (see above) in Tuesday’s 3-2 shootout loss to the Philadelphia Flyers, and it’s easy to see why.

It’s not just about his personal struggles, either. When Anderson’s managed to play, he’s been flat-out phenomenal, generating a .927 save percentage that ranks near a Vezina-type level (if he managed to play more than 35 games).

Goaltending has been a huge reason why Ottawa has at least a shot of winning the Atlantic or at least grabbing a round of home-ice advantage, so unlike certain instances where teams shield a goalie’s failures, the defenses are absolutely justified.

Anderson, on the other hand, was very hard on himself.

You have to admire Anderson for taking the blame, even if in very much “hockey player” fashion, he’s not exactly demanding the same sort of credit for his great work this season.

Just about every relevant team in the East playoff races won tonight

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After Eastern Conference teams deserved a “C” on Monday, they generally passed Tuesday’s tests with flying colors. Sometimes they carved out three-point games when relevant teams faced off, too.

It’s almost bewildering trying to figure out where to start … so how about the top of the East?

Metro’s rich get richer

The Minnesota Wild deserve credit for fighting back from a considerable deficit, including overcoming an Alex Ovechkin hat trick (all on the power play). Ultimately, T.J. Oshie‘s overtime-winner gave Washington the 5-4 (OT) win.

Elsewhere in the Metro’s top ranks, Sergei Bobrovsky grabbed his 41st win of the season (3-1 win against the Sabres) to put Columbus three points behind the Capitals and two ahead of the idle Penguins.

Metro top three (all with 75 games played)

1. Capitals – 108 points
2. Blue Jackets – 105 points
3. Penguins – 103 points

Canadiens gain ground

The Montreal Canadiens handled the Dallas Stars 4-1 in The Epic Battle of the Benns. Meanwhile, the Philadelphia Flyers beat the second-place Senators 3-2 via a shootout

Both the Maple Leafs and Bruins won their games, leaving Toronto one point ahead of Boston for third in the Atlantic.

Atlantic top five

1. Canadiens – 95 points in 76 games played
2. Senators – 91 points in 75 GP
3. Maple Leafs – 87 points in 75 GP

Bruins – 86 points in 76 GP
Lightning – 83 points in 75 GP

Finally, let’s look at the final spot in the East

OK, so there’s some overlap here. Why don’t we check on the most wild-card-relevant teams?

Third Atlantic spot: Leafs – 87 points in 75 GP

Final spot: Bruins – 86 points in 76 GP

Lightning – 83 points in 75 GP
Islanders – 82 points in 75 GP
Hurricanes – 82 points in 75 GP
Flyers – 80 points in 76 GP
Panthers – 77 points in 76 GP

Again, the Bruins won, as did the Flyers. The Lightning were idle. The Panthers fell to the Maple Leafs. Buffalo lost while Detroit and New Jersey are out of the running.

You know who deserves special mention outside of the top eight? The Carolina Hurricanes deserve such a distinction, as they are enjoying one of their hottest runs in franchise history after beating Detroit 4-1.

The overall message: just about any truly relevant team at least grabbed a standings point, with most winning games outright on Tuesday.

It doesn’t exactly thin the herd, but it keeps the door open for a fun race to the finish.