Saturday Night Hockey


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Ryan O’Reilly gives a puck to a kid before the Sabres take on the Senators. AP Photo via Getty Images courtesy Buffalo Sabres.

Tonight, there’s plenty of hockey on your classic Saturday for puckers. For local hockey fans, all three Battle clubs will be in action. Buffalo is also in action. Game time is 7 PM for each.

The Rangers are visiting TD Garden to battle the Bruins in an Original 6 rematch. The Blueshirts took the home game in convincing fashion 5-2 at MSG. A game that saw them battle back from a 2-0 first period deficit by scoring five unanswered including two from Brandon Pirri. Rivalry Night also saw Bruins forward David Pastrnak go head hunting with an illegal check to the head of Dan Girardi, receiving a minor penalty. He was suspended two games and will be in Boston’s lineup. If anyone decides to do anything, Chris Kreider is the likely candidate. He’s back for his homecoming. So, you know he’ll want to have a big game. Tuukka Rask has been on fire for Boston since returning. He should be a good test for the league’s leading offense. Antti Raanta gets his third start.

The Islanders are home at Barclays Center to host the Oilers. Losers of two straight and called out by upset coach Jack Capuano, they need a bounce back performance in a big way. They’re 4-6-1 and have played bad hockey so far. With newcomers Andrew Ladd and Jason Chimera under performing, Capuano changed his lines moving grinder Cal Clutterbuck up to the top line with John Tavares and Josh Bailey. Ladd is with Ryan Strome and rookie Anthony Beauvillier, who officially plays his 10th game which means he’s here to stay. Brock Nelson anchors Anders Lee and Chimera. Casey Cizikas centers Nikolay Kulemin and Shane Prince. After a strong performance in a 3-2 shootout loss to the Flyers, Jaroslav Halak gets the start. It’ll be interesting to see if the Isles’ D can contain Connor McDavid, whose teammates love to play a fast paced tempo. How will that work on the ice in Brooklyn? Cam Talbot starts again for Edmonton, who really don’t have a backup.

The Devils play the Lightning for the second time in three games. Coming off a 4-3 overtime loss at Florida, it’s the second of a long seven-game road trip. They defeated the Lightning at home 3-1 on Oct. 29. Adam Henrique, Damon Severson and Devante Smith-Pelly tallied and Cory Schneider made 32 saves. Severson broke out with a goal and assist. He’s been hot of late tallying two assists in a one-goal loss to the Panthers, upping his season total to eight points (1-7-8). Former first round pick Pavel Zacha scored his first career NHL goal to help the Devils rally from a 3-1 deficit in the third period to earn a point at Florida. Interestingly, Severson is one of six defensemen leading their team in scoring. Schneider is in net opposing Ben Bishop. The top line features leading finisher Taylor Hall (5 goals), Travis Zajac and P.A. Parenteau, who’s been solid so far. Severson is paired with captain Andy Greene. We’ll see if they can keep Steven Stamkos in check along with Tyler Johnson, Nikita Kucherov and Alex Killorn.

The Sabres visit the Senators too. After a slow start without Jack Eichel, Buffalo has won three of four. Ryan O’Reilly leads them in scoring with eight points (4-4-8). Kyle Okposo has adjusted to life well with four goal and three assists while playing on the same line. Interestingly, former Isles’ line mate Matt Moulson also is on the top line. He’s been rejuvenated with four goals. Rasmus Ristolainen leads the Sabres in assists with seven. Brian Gionta and Johan Larsson have also been key contributors. They’re also without oft injured power wing Evander Kane, who will be out a while. Starter Robin Lehner just returned. He’s been solid in his last three starts winning two while allowing only four goals. He gets his fourth consecutive start. On the opposite end, Craig Anderson gets his second start since finding out that wife Nicholle has cancer. He recorded a shutout to outduel Talbot in an emotional game at Edmonton in which he was named the game’s number one star. Talbot stayed out to cheer him.

Everyone is thinking about Anderson and his wife at this challenging time. It should be an emotional night in Ottawa.

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About Derek Felix

Derek Felix is sports blogger whose previous experience included two stints at ESPN as a stat researcher for NHL and WNBA telecasts. The Staten Island native also worked behind the scenes for MSG as a production assistant on New Jersey Devil games. An avid New York sports fan who enjoys covering events, writing, concerts, movies and the outdoors, Derek has scored Berkeley Carroll basketball games since 2006 and provided an outlet for the Park Slope school's student athletes. Hitting Back gives them the publicity they deserve. From players, coaches to administrators, it's a first class program. In his free time, he also attends Ranger games and is a loyal St. John's alum with a sports management degree.
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