BUFFALO – Don’t expect huge fireworks tonight in the wake of Patrick Kaleta’s scary hit from behind on Rangers star Brad Richards last Sunday in New York.
Kaleta’s still on the sidelines, only four contests into his five-game ban. The Rangers may want to punish the Sabres’ agitator when they visit the First Niagara Center again April 19.
Besides, the eighth-place Rangers, a big disappointment this season, need to concentrate on winning a game.
Richards, who missed two games after Kaleta knocked him head-first into the boards, has scored in both of his appearances since returning.
“It’s over and done with as far as I’m concerned,” Richards said this afternoon about the incident. “The league took care of what they thought they could take care of, and we’re here to win a hockey game.”
Interim Sabres coach Ron Rolston knows the Rangers could want some payback, though.
“It’s obviously a possibility,” he acknowledged. “The other thing I would say about that is I think they’re normally edgy. So that’s the way they want to play. So you take that into consideration. The other thing you take into consideration is they want to get as many points as they can.”
Meanwhile, the Sabres, losers of four straight (0-2-2), desperately want to start strongly tonight. Sixty-minute efforts have been rare this season. Starts had gotten a bit better until Sunday in Philadelphia, when the Flyers scored twice in the opening 8:47 and three times in the opening 20:17.
The Sabres lost 3-2.
“Starts is an issue,” Sabres captain Jason Pominville said. “You have to be able to play 60 minutes. You don’t play 10. You’re not giving yourself a chance to win. It could’ve cost us the game. It did cost us the game. We got to be able to play a complete, solid game to win a game. Right now, it hasn’t been the case. That why we are where we’re at.”