Rangers aim to start win streak against Sabres

(SportsNetwork.com) - The New York Rangers will try to secure consecutive wins for the first time this season when they host the lowly Buffalo Sabres in Thursday's battle at Madison Square Garden.

New York has won two of its last three games and is coming off Tuesday's 3-2 regulation victory over the rival New York Islanders. The road victory improved the Rangers' record to 4-7-0 on the season and the club hopes it can build off the recent win during its first homestand of the campaign.

The Blueshirts opened the season on a nine-game road trip while a renovation project at Madison Square Garden was being completed. They finally debuted at MSG on Monday, but dropped a 2-0 decision against visiting Montreal before rebounding from that home loss with Tuesday's triumph on Long Island.

Thursday's contest kicks off a four-game stay in the Big Apple for the Rangers, who had a solid 16-6-2 record as the host during last year's lockout- shortened campaign.

Benoit Pouliot and Ryan McDonagh each tallied third-period goals to lead the Rangers to a comeback win over the Islanders. The Rangers were down 2-1 after the second period before taking control of the contest in the final 20 minutes.

Chris Kreider added a power-play goal and Derek Stepan chipped in two assists. Cam Talbot turned aside 22 shots, including all eight he faced in the third period, to earn his second straight win between the pipes.

"That'll give us a lot of confidence moving forward, to battle back from those deficits in the third period," said Talbot. "Especially when we've been struggling to find the back of the net recently."

Talbot anchored a 3-2 overtime win in Detroit on Saturday before Henrik Lundqvist returned to the lineup in Monday's loss to the Canadiens. Lundqvist had missed the two games prior to the Montreal tilt with an undisclosed injury, but the former Vezina Trophy winner is expected to get the call in net on Thursday.

Lundqvist is 12-10-2 with a 2.43 goals against average in 24 career outings against the Sabres.

Although the Rangers are still without star winger Rick Nash (concussion) and captain Ryan Callahan (broken thumb), the club did have speedy winger Carl Hagelin in the lineup for the first time this season on Tuesday. Hagelin had missed New York's first 10 contests of the campaign while recovering from shoulder surgery performed in May. He posted an assist in 17 minutes, 15 seconds of ice time in his season debut.

The Sabres enter Thursday on a two-game losing streak and are off to a dreadful 2-11-1 start to the season. Buffalo lost for the fifth time in six games in its last trip to the ice, dropping Monday's 4-3 regulation decision to Lindy Ruff and the Dallas Stars.

Ruff returned to Buffalo for the first time as head coach of the Stars after getting fired by the Sabres last February. He was the longest tenured coach in franchise history before the firing.

The Sabres did get a solid performance from new acquisition Matt Moulson in his debut with the club. Moulson potted a pair of goals in Monday's loss after coming to Buffalo in a blockbuster trade that sent Thomas Vanek to the New York Islanders. The Sabres also received a first-round pick in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft and a second-rounder in 2015.

"He did a good job," Sabres head coach Ron Rolston said of Moulson making his debut. "He's a hockey player."

Steve Ott also lit the lamp and Ryan Miller allowed all four goals on 29 shots for Buffalo, which fell to 0-7-1 at home this season.

The Sabres are 2-4-0 as the guest this season and are playing four of their next five games on the road.

New York has won two of three and five of the last seven meetings against the Sabres overall and Buffalo has lost two of its last three contests at MSG.