Vitali Kravtsov close, Keith Kinkaid starts as Rangers take on Sabres at MSG

Rangers vs Sabres: The Blueshirts will look to keep the wins going as they take on the Sabres at the Garden tonight. Keith Kinkaid will get the nod after a strong performance over the Capitals this weekend. Julien Gauthier returns to the lineup as Brett Howden is out tonight.

Rangers: 13-13-4 (30 pts)
Sabres: 6-19-4 (16 pts)

(7:00 p.m. ET – TV: MSG Network)

Vitali Kravtsov close to joining Rangers

Vitali Kravtsov is in the final stages of his COVID protocols today. He will be undergoing his cardiac screening and if he clears can participate at practice with the team. No official word on what the plan is for the 2018 first round pick to get into action is at this time.

Expectation would be Jack Johnson moving to LTIR and Kravtsov initially as part of the taxi-squad to get in a few full practices before being inserted into the lineup. That could mean seeing him later this week in game action. Interim head coach Kris Knoblauch was also asked about what took place with Kravtsov last season and noted that he was great when he came back.

Keith Kinkaid starts, Igor Shesterkin closer

Rangers vs Sabres
Mar 15, 2021; New York, New York, USA; Keith Kinkaid #71 of the New York Rangers prepares to tend net against the Philadelphia Flyers at Madison Square Garden on March 15, 2021 in New York City. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Bennett/POOL PHOTOS-USA TODAY Sports

Keith Kinkaid is the starter again tonight after defeating the Capitals on Saturday with a rock solid performance recording 28 saves on 29 shots. In his last 4 appearances which includes 3 starts, he’s 2-0-1 with a 1.65 GAA and a .933 SV%.

As for the latest update on Igor Shesterkin, Kris Knoblauch informed the media that it isn’t his decision as to when Shesty can return but hinted at Thursday. In his last 11 appearances, Igor’s numbers were impressive as he sported a .931 SV% and a sparkling 2.09 GAA.

Rangers Russian Dynamic Duo

While Mika Zibanejad seems to be exiting a season long funk with eight points in his last three games, two Russian Rangers are dominating. Artemi Panarin has a point in 4 of the last 5 games (3 G, 4 A) and is second on the team in scoring with 25 points in just 19 games played. Pavel Buchnevich is red-hot and is the team’s leading scorer with 28 points in 29 games. In his last 4 games he’s notched 8 points (4 G, 4 A) to go with a fantastic +10 rating.

Tonight, be on the lookout for the Breadman who loves to play at MSG. For his career he has scored 78 points (29 G, 49 A) in just 51 career games at The World’s Most Famous Arena. We could be seeing a leg kick or two tonight.

Pre-Game Notes

  • All-Time vs Sabres: 79-79-25-5 (44-31-15-3 at home; 35-48-10-2 on the road)
  • The Rangers have earned a point in four of the last five games (3-1-1 record) 
  • New York has held its opponent to 30 shots on goal or fewer in each of the last nine games and in 21 of 30 games this season
  • The Rangers were 4-for-4 (8:00) on Mar. 20 at Washington.
  • The Blueshirts have not allowed a power play goal in 19 of their last 23 games (67-for-73; 91.8%), including 13 of the last 16 games (45-for-50; 90.0%) and 11 of the last 13 games (30-for-33; 90.9%).

UPCOMING MILESTONES

  • Adam Fox – 1 game away from 100 in his NHL career/with the Rangers
  • Mika Zibanejad – 3 games away from 300 with the Rangers
  • Ryan Lindgren – 5 games away from 100 in his NHL career/with the Rangers

Notes courtesy NYR

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