Sun, 05 Dec 2021

Rangers will have Mika Zibanejad against Sabres after all

Field Level Media
21 Nov 2021, 14:55 GMT+10

Instead of spending Saturday afternoon visiting the Ottawa Senators, the New York Rangers were on their practice rink, except for Mika Zibanejad.

But now he's back and ready to face the Buffalo Sabres on Sunday night.

Zibanejad was held out of practice after being placed in the COVID-19 protocol but then removed from protocol later in the day Saturday after the team revealed that he had a false positive test.

The Rangers were originally supposed to be on the second part of a back-to-back set on Sunday but their game in Ottawa was postponed due to the Senators' COVID-19 outbreak. Instead, the Rangers had two days to try and fix the things that went wrong in a 2-1 loss to the host Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday.

New York saw its four-game winning streak stopped when its only goal came from Dryden Hunt early in the third period. Hunt's goal occurred on a night when the Rangers won nine of 46 faceoffs.

"It's frustrating," New York's Ryan Strome said. "I know we work so hard on it. When you give a good team the puck to start, it's really hard."

Zibanejad won four of his six faceoffs Thursday and has won 48.4 percent of his faceoffs, which is among the highest on the team. His 14 points (four goals, 10 assists) are also third on the team.

Buffalo is 2-6-1 in its past nine games since getting off to a 5-1-1 start with a 4-3 overtime win at Anaheim on Oct. 28. The Sabres have allowed 35 of their 49 goals in that span and allowed five goals for the fifth time in their skid on Thursday when they absorbed a 5-0 home loss to the Calgary Flames.

Buffalo allowed four goals in the second period to the Flames while struggling defensively in front of goaltender Dustin Tokarski. Players are optimistic Thursday was an aberration in quality of its performances.

"You have maybe one practice day where we stunk and then we have one game where we really stunk," Buffalo's Kyle Okposo said. "Like, that's not a norm. I'm not worried at all. We're going to revert back to what we usually do. I have the utmost confidence in the guys."

New York went 6-1-1 last season against Buffalo and is 13-4-1 in the past 18 meetings.

--Field Level Media

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