Henrik Lundqvist remains out after his bizarre blood vessel injury but Cam Talbot has been red-hot, taking over the crease and shooting the New York Rangers atop the six-way tie for the NHL's overall lead. Talbot has gone 12-2-3 in those games, with the one night off being the Rangers' 3-1 win over the Sabres here on Feb. 20.
MacKenzie Skapski, a 20-year-old drafted in the sixth round in 2013, made his NHL debut and got the win in that game. With the Rangers in town again for a game Saturday night, Skapski is getting chance No. 2, also against the Sabres.
Skapski got beat by Matt Moulson for a goal 14 seconds in the first meeting and then stopped his final 24 shots.
"He played pretty well last time so I don't think he's going to be nervous," Moulson said today after practice in HarborCenter. "I don't think it matters who's in the net. You want to throw as many pucks as you can and try to make them feel uncomfortable whatever way that is."
You can read all about Skapski in this story by Andrew Gross of the Bergen Record.
"I don't think I'm as timid," Skapski said this week while the Rangers were in Washington. "Walking into that first game, I really had no idea what to expect. I feel like I'm improving every day. I'm really comfortable and I feel if I need to go in as a replacement for Cam, I could do the job."
Skapski trivia: He was born on June 15, 1994 -- the day after the Rangers beat Vancouver to win their first Stanley Cup in 54 years and their only one since 1940.
The Rangers have been absurdly hot for months, going 31-7-3 in their last 41. That's a half-season. And a 130-point pace.
The Sabres have scored first in nine of their last 10 games but this is one of those where they face a huge talent gap. Teams like the Rangers may fall behind Buffalo but the Sabres aren't able to answer the opponent's pushback on most nights.
"There’s not much you can do except try to get yourself in better body position," said coach Ted Nolan. "We like our starts. When teams turn it up a notch, we got to learn to defend better.
"If you watch practice today, that’s exactly what we tried to key on is proper defensive positioning. If someone is going to beat you, they have to go through you instead of one move and get around you."
Nolan said he'll announce a starter between Anders Lindback and Matt Hackett Saturday morning.