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.”

Blackhawks’ Boris Katchouk sidelined by ankle sprain

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CHICAGO — Blackhawks forward Boris Katchouk will be sidelined for four to six weeks with a left ankle sprain, the team announced.

The 24-year-old Katchouk played almost 12 minutes during a 3-0 preseason loss to Detroit on Saturday night. He was acquired in a multiplayer trade with Tampa Bay in March.

The Blackhawks open the season on Oct. 12 at Colorado.

The team also said forward Jujhar Khaira is day to day with a right ankle injury.

Ducks’ Urho Vaakanainen crashes into boards, leaves on stretcher

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ANAHEIM, Calif. — Ducks defenseman Urho Vaakanainen was taken off the Honda Center ice on a stretcher after he crashed into the end boards in the first period of Anaheim’s preseason game against the San Jose Sharks.

The Finnish defenseman was conscious and alert with full movement in his extremities at UCI Medical Center, the Ducks said.

The frightening incident occurred midway through the opening period when Vaakanainen smashed into the boards at a dangerous speed behind the Sharks’ net. Vaakanainen appeared to be concentrating on the pass he had just made to Derek Grant, who scored the Ducks’ opening goal on the assist.

Vaakanainen’s teammates came onto the ice and gathered around him as he was taken away on the stretcher.

The Ducks acquired the 23-year-old Vaakanainen from Boston last March in the deal that sent longtime Ducks defenseman Hampus Lindholm to the Bruins. After recording two assists in 14 games for the Ducks last season, Vaakanainen is attempting to win a top-six role on Anaheim’s defense this fall.

Lightning donate $2 million to Hurricane Ian relief efforts

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TAMPA, Fla. — The Tampa Bay Lightning and team owner Jeff Vinik are donating $2 million toward Hurricane Ian relief efforts.

The NHL team announced that $1 million each will be donated by the Tampa Bay Lightning Foundation and the Vinik Family Foundation.

“This is a tragic situation for many families and communities across the state of Florida, but especially so in the southwest region of the state,” Vinik said in a statement released by the team. “In times like these the most important thing we can do is support one another, and we hope this donation will help families recover and rebuild in the months to come.”

Ian made landfall Wednesday on Florida’s Gulf Coast, south of the Tampa Bay area. The Lightning postponed two home preseason games and moved the club’s training camp to Nashville, Tennessee, during the storm.

Maple Leafs sign defenseman Rasmus Sandin to 2-year deal

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TORONTO — Rasmus Sandin has signed a two-year, $2.8 million contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs, the club announced on Thursday.

The 22-year-old from Sweden was the 29th overall selection in the 2018 draft. Sandin had 16 points in 51 games with Toronto last season. He’s played in 88 career regular-season games, with six goals and 22 assists, and has one goal in five playoff games.

“Got a great set of tools,” fellow defenseman Jake Muzzin said. “With experience, I think they’re only going to get better.”

The signing comes as the Leafs’ blueliners been hit hard by injuries. Muzzin has been dealing with a back issue, and Timothy Liljegren recently had surgery for a hernia.

Toronto then lost Jamie Benn (groin) and Carl Dahlstrom (shoulder) in Wednesday’s 3-0 preseason victory over the Montreal Canadiens, pressing forwards Calle Jarnkrok and Alexander Kerfoot into defensive roles for two periods.