Mar 26, 2014; New York, NY, USA; New York Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh (27) celebrates his goal with teammates during the second period against the Philadelphia Flyers at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

Behind Enemy Lines: New York Rangers

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The New York Rangers have secured a playoff spot with two games remaining in the team’s season. Now, the Rangers look to capture home-ice advantage, a feat that can be made easier with a win over the Buffalo Sabres on Thursday.

New York Rangers

Standings: 2nd, Metropolitan Division (44-31-5)
Streak: Won 1

The Rangers play their final home game of the regular season on Thursday against the Sabres.

New York is two points ahead of Philadelphia and Columbus and can get closer to securing home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs with a win tonight at MSG.

Leading the Rangers is left winger Mats Zuccarello. He leads the team in points, with 58 in 75 games. There’s also Derek Stepan, who has 56 points on the season. Both players have a team-high 39 assists each.

Left winger Rick Nash leads the Rangers in goals, with 25 on the season. Brad Richards has hit the 20-goal mark, while Zuccarello, Stepan and Derick Brassard are all close.

Zuccarello, Stepan, Richards and Brassard are all dangerous on the power play, with 17, 18, or 19 power play points each. Brassard is tied for the team lead with seven power play goals; he shares that marker with left winger Benoit Pouliot.

Zuccarello is on a five-game point streak that’s seen him score four goals and four assists. Pouliot is on a six-game streak of his own; he’s got six points in that stretch.

Leading the Rangers in penalty minutes is right winger Derek Dorsett (109).

The Rangers have been on a hot streak in the past month, going 8-2-1 since March 16 and scoring an average of 3.55 goals per game. They’re coming off a 4-1 win over Carolina on Tuesday, one day after they clinched a playoff spot. Goals came from Brad Richards, Benoit Pouliot and Derek Stepan. Henrik Lundqvist had 27 saves and Martin St. Louis had three assists in Tuesday’s win.

It’s expected that Lundqvist will start tonight for the Rangers.

Two players that will be missing for the Rangers as they host the Sabres tonight are Ryan McDonagh and Chris Kreider.

McDonagh is out with a shoulder injury sustained on April 1; he’s skating, but is considered day-to-day and won’t play tonight. He could return for the Rangers on Saturday in their final game of the regular season. Kreider is out with a hand injury.

The New York Rangers host the Sabres tonight at 7 p.m. at Madison Square Garden. They’ll travel to Montreal to face the Habs on Saturday and then wait to begin the playoffs in the middle of next week.

Can they inch closer to securing home ice in the first round with a win tonight over the Sabres? Stay tuned to find out.

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Tags: Buffalo Sabres Ny Rangers

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