(AP) – The Buffalo Sabres and New York Rangers are in the thick of the Eastern Conference playoff race. Only the Sabres were able to acquire a significant offensive addition before the trade deadline to improve their chances.
The Rangers instead saw their injured list grow.
Brad Boyes is expected to make his debut with the Sabres when they open a season-high seven-game road trip against the injury-riddled Rangers on Tuesday night.
Buffalo (29-25-7) is ninth in the East, two points back of eighth-place Carolina and five behind the Rangers (33-27-4) for seventh.
The Sabres are in position to trim or even erase those gaps this week, visiting the Hurricanes on Thursday after this stop in New York.
Boyes – three goals and one assist in his last five visits to Madison Square Garden – could make a difference.
Buffalo acquired the right wing from St. Louis on Sunday in exchange for a second-round draft pick. Boyes had a career-high 43 goals with the Blues in 2007-08, and scored 33 the following season.
He’s totaled only 26 goals since, but Buffalo was willing to make the move, paying what’s left on his $4.5 million salary for this season and an additional $4 million for 2011-12.
The move came less than a week after Pennsylvania billionaire and longtime Sabres fan Terry Pegula bought the team for $189 million.
“What else can you ask for in an owner who wants to really win?” left wing Tomas Vanek said. “For us, it’s great. Now we’ve just got to rise up to it. I think it’s huge. Any time you can add scoring to your lineup it’s going to help out. The guy’s proven, and I think he’s going to fit in good here.”
The Sabres could use some added scoring punch after totaling 12 goals on a 2-3-1 homestand, which concluded with a 3-2 shootout loss to Detroit on Saturday.
The Rangers’ most significant move Monday involved learning backup goaltender Martin Biron is out indefinitely with a broken collarbone after being hit with a shot in practice. They called up Cam Talbot, who has yet to play in an NHL game, from Connecticut of the AHL to serve as Henrik Lundqvist’s new backup.
The injury’s timing made seeking a deal for another netminder difficult, and the Rangers were hesitant to part with any of the organization’s young talent.
“We just didn’t want to lay a lot of things on the line,” general manager Glen Sather said. “I know it’s risky, but I know that Henrik loves the work and he loves to play.”
Biron joins an injured list that included captain Chris Drury (knee), defenseman Marc Staal (knee), right wing Marian Gaborik (concussion) and left wing Ruslan Fedotenko (shoulder).
Lundqvist could be up to the challenge of serving as the workhorse. He leads the league with eight shutouts and is 25-21-4 with a 2.33 GAA. He’s 1-2-1 with a 3.20 GAA over his last four meetings with the Sabres, including a 33-save performance in a 6-3 win at Buffalo on Oct. 9.
Biron’s 29 saves backstopped the Rangers to a 3-2 overtime victory at MSG in the most recent matchup Nov. 11.
The Rangers did add veteran defenseman Bryan McCabe via a trade with Florida on Saturday. McCabe was in uniform for Sunday’s 2-1 loss to Tampa Bay, as New York fell to 2-4-1 in its last seven home games.
New York acquired center John Mitchell on Monday, sending a seventh-round pick to Toronto. The Rangers sent Mitchell to Connecticut.
Updated February 28, 2011
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