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NHL on NBCSN: After ‘awful’ loss to Sabres, Rangers hope to bounce back against Flyers

NBCSN will continue its coverage of the 2016-17 campaign tonight when the Philadelphia Flyers host the New York Rangerse at 8:00 p.m. ET. If you want to watch the game online, you can do so here.

Last night, everything pointed toward the Rangers easily taking care of the Sabres. New York entered the new year riding a three-game winning streak and they had found the back of the net 16 times in their previous three games.

But there’s a reason games are played on the ice and not on paper. Not only did the Rangers not win, they also looked horrible in the process, as they dropped a 4-1 decision to Buffalo at MSG.

“It was an awful game from us. Just an awful game,” Stepan said after Tuesday’s loss, per the New York Post. “We’d better digest this, learn from it and correct it. It’s happened a lot lately. We have to figure out what’s going on and we have to do it now.”

Although it’s still only January, tonight’s game is an important one for the Rangers, as they’ll take on the red-hot Blue Jackets in Columbus on Saturday before going on their bye week.

On the injury front, Rick Nash (groin) will miss his seventh consecutive game. There’s still a chance he could play against the Blue Jackets this weekend.

A win for the Flyers would bring them to within six points of New York for the third seed in the Metropolitan Division.

The Flyers entered the new year on a three-game losing streak, which has since reached four games after their latest loss to the Ducks on Jan. 1, but they still felt good about their 55-shot performance.

“You get 55 shots, you’re going to win most games,” defenseman Michael Del Zotto said, per Philly.com. “It’s unfortunate we didn’t get the two points, but it’s definitely a better game than the last two we played.

“We know we’ve been in a little bit of a lull, but if we keep playing like we did [Sunday], we’ll be successful.”

They’re entering a crucial part of their schedule, as they’ll get two days between games after tonight, but they’ll follow that up by playing six games in nine days before hitting their bye week in mid-January.

Related:

Sabres shut down Rangers offense in 4-1 win

An interesting stretch awaits the Flyers

Gibson, Kesler steal one for Ducks against Flyers

Auston Matthews’ 33rd goal includes a dash of comedy (Video)

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This wouldn’t have been worth a chuckle if not for the correction. (Well, maybe a chuckle at Auston Matthews‘ expense.)

On the 33rd goal of his brilliant rookie season, Auston Matthews made it 2-0 for Toronto on the power play. Crusty “act like you’ve been there” types might grumble that he actually celebrated before a goal really happened, only to tap it in for real the second time around. The rest of us, again, get a mild chuckle.

William Nylander‘s pass was nothing to laugh at, however. That one just gets a big thumbs up.

Hnnngmgghh indeed.

That goal could end up being key as the Blue Jackets quickly scored to start the second period, shrinking Toronto’s lead to 2-1 on Wednesday.

Video: Leafs’ Carrick delivers thunderous hit on Blue Jackets’ Anderson

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Both the Columbus Blue Jackets and Toronto Maple Leafs have motivation to win their Wednesday game, but the Maple Leafs need it more.

So far, it shows, too.

The Maple Leafs have raced off to a 2-0 lead, with Auston Matthews scoring his 33rd goal of the season. If generating such offense didn’t highlight the urgency, Connor Carrick‘s huge hit on Josh Anderson makes a compelling argument. Witness that big impact in the video above.

There was also another high-impact moment when Nick Foligno went crashing into the boards:

Ouch, Blues consider Paul Stastny out week-to-week

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The St. Louis Blues announced that Paul Stastny is out week-to-week with a lower-body injury.

Stastny was limited to less than four minutes of ice time during last night’s 4-2 win against the Colorado Avalanche. Initially, head coach Mike Yeo indicated that the issue wasn’t serious.

There are only about three weeks left in the regular season, so it’s tough to tell if “week-to-week” would mean that the Blues will be without Stastny for any playoff time.

With Stastny out for an expended period of time and other injuries affecting Blues forwards, it sounds like Nail Yakupov gets another chance to prove himself:

Stastny generated 18 goals and 40 points in 66 games so far this season. He has played more of a defensive role this season (46.2 offensive zone start percentage after being closer to 50 earlier in his Blues days) and has been impressive in the dot, winning 53.8 of his faceoffs.

WATCH LIVE: Islanders at Rangers – Wednesday Night Rivalry

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A night after a feisty matcuhup with the Devils, the Rangers host an even bigger rival in the Islanders at Madison Square Garden for Wednesday Night Rivalry on NBCSN.

As nasty as Tuesday’s contest got at times, this one means more.

While the Rangers seem pretty safely seated as the East’s first wild card, the Islanders stand three points behind the Maple Leafs for the final spot in the conference. They’ve seen other bubble teams stumble, so this is their chance to close in on Toronto in what might be a shrinking field of contenders.

Spiting the Islanders might just give the Rangers a little extra life on back-to-back nights … especially since their fans would probably let them have it if they sleepwalk through this one.

It should be a fun, physical and dramatic one on NBCSN. You can also watch online and via the NBC Sports App.

Click here for the livestream.