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NHL on NBCSN: Rangers look to push winning streak to four against Sabres

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NBCSN will continue its coverage of the 2016-17 campaign tonight when the New York Rangers host the Buffalo Sabres at 7:00 p.m. ET. If you want to watch the game online, you can do so here.

The New York Rangers might not be the most talked about team in the Metropolitan Division, but that doesn’t mean they haven’t been good.

They’ll come into tonight’s game riding a three-game winning streak, and they’ve done so without Rick Nash (groin), Pavel Buchnevich (back) and Mika Zibanejad (broken fibula).

What’s more impressive, is that the Rangers have found the back of the net 16 times during that span, including back-to-back six-goal performances in Arizona and Colorado.

Chris Kreider and Matt Puempel each scored a hat trick in the last two games, while J.T. Miller put up a pair of points in each.

Of the 16 goals they’ve scored during their winning streak, seven have come on the man-advantage.

“Our power play right now is winning us some games,” Miller said after Saturday’s win over Colorado, per the Daily News. “It’s just putting the momentum in our favor whether it’s tying the game or going up by one. At the end of the day those add up. If you get several goals a game on the power play, that’s gonna be hard for the other team to play well and keep momentum and win the game.”

Let’s just say scoring goals hasn’t come as easily for the Sabres.

They closed out 2016 with a pair of losses to the Boston Bruins and they scored just three goals combined in those pair of defeats.

The Sabres are currently last in the Eastern Conference with 34 points in their first 36 games, which obviously isn’t good enough if they want to play deeper into April or May.

“As a whole team, everyone needs to look in the mirror and we all need to get a lot better,” said forward Jack Eichel, per the Buffalo News. “I think I speak for the team in saying that we’re all frustrated with where we’re at, and I don’t think I’m the only person in the locker room that’s not satisfied.”

The 2017 schedule won’t do them any favors early on, as they’ll play just four of their 13 games in January on the road, where they have a 6-7-5 record this season.

“If we play how we can and we win hockey games at the rate we can, it can put us in that area where we think we’re going to need to be to be in playoff consideration,” head coach Dan Bylsma said. “That’s really got to be the focus for us here.

“But it also can’t wait for another 20 games to say that same situation. We have to realize the situation we’re in now, and we’ve got to win 60 percent of our points the rest of the way out for sure.”

Ducks take control of second in Pacific after edging Oilers

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Connor McDavid was fantastic on Wednesday, but the Anaheim Ducks overcame his strong showing for a significant win in the Pacific.

McDavid scored a goal and two assists, yet Ryan Getzlaf was right there with him with three assists, helping the Ducks win 4-3.

With that, Anaheim is clearly ahead of Edmonton for second in the Pacific. The Ducks would hold home-ice over the Oilers if the playoffs began today, and better yet for them, a division title isn’t out of the question:

1. Sharks – 91 points in 73 games played
2. Ducks – 89 points in 73 GP
3. Oilers – 87 points in 73 GP
4. Flames – 86 points in 73 GP

As you can see, the Oilers aren’t exactly far ahead of the Flames for third, either.

Going forward, the Oilers have an interesting schedule: a mix of games against cellar dwellers (two apiece against the Canucks and Avalanche) plus two games apiece versus the Kings and Sharks.

The Ducks’ schedule includes two matches against the Flames, one against the Kings and one more match at Edmonton on April 1.

Long story short, the jockeying for position is far from over, but this was a pretty significant win for the Ducks.

Video: Connor McDavid shows off speed and skill (again)

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Connor McDavid‘s 26th goal of 2016-17 was a lot like many others: an impressive display of skill and speed. He didn’t blaze past the Anaheim Ducks like has against opponents on other occasions, but his rare wheels still came in handy.

Maybe more than sheer speed, this tally is a reminder that McDavid could do impressive things while losing little or no momentum. It’s one thing to have straight-line speed, but he has the hands and hockey IQ to take advantage of his swift skating.

McDavid already has two points in this one, pushing him to 84 points. He also extended his point streak to five games (three goals, six assists if he stays at one of each on Wednesday).

Islanders grab precious points by beating Rangers

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The goal posts might move from time to time – now they’re chasing the Boston Bruins more than the Toronto Maple Leafs – but the bottom line is that the New York Islanders need to get it done to make the playoffs.

They still have some climbing to do, but Wednesday represented a step in the right direction with a tough 3-2 win against the New York Rangers.

The Rangers built 1-0 and 2-1 leads in the second period as John Tavares struggled with a “hat trick” of penalties, but Tavares & Co. wouldn’t give up. They managed two power-play goals in the third (one by Nikolay Kulemin, the winner by Andrew Ladd) to turn things around for a significant win.

Anders Lee was also a big part of the win, grabbing a goal and an assist. The biggest difference-maker may very well have been Thomas Greiss, who stopped 34 of 36 shots (including all 11 in the third) as the Rangers created a lot of offense.

The Islanders now have 80 standings points, placing them two behind the Bruins for the East’s final wild card spot.

The Rangers’ hold over the first wild card seems quite secure, but they do have to worry ever so slightly about their play at home. With this defeat, they’ve now lost seven straight (0-5-2) at Madison Square Garden.

Video: Rick Nash scores 20th goal in sprawling style

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Rick Nash has his critics stemming from his playoff struggles in the past, but for those who support him, moments like these are satisfying.

Why? Because you’d be absurd to discredit how hard he tries when Nash scores goals like he did for the New York Rangers against the New York Islanders on Wednesday.

Nash went all-out for his 20th goal of the season, sprawling after scoring against Thomas Greiss. It’s quite a sight, and Getty Images really was on top of that one.

via Getty Images

The Rangers may need more from him tonight, however, as the Islanders just went up 3-2. Watch the remainder of the contest on NBCSN.