The stage was set and everything was in place Tuesday night for the Sabres to clinch the Northeast Division. Buffalo had taken two out of the first three meetings this season, but the Rangers were expected to be desperate for points.
Buffalo gave New York a severe blow by defeating them 5-2, making it look easy. The Rangers tied the game at two, but that was all they could do. Lindy Ruff stated that Buffalo was going to play well and they did just that.
The Sabres put on the pressure and the Rangers couldn’t score. Perhaps it was the man in net for the Sabres that won the game. Ryan Miller made 30 saves to earn his 40th win of the season. Miller also made arguably the save of the year on Marion Gaborik. The Rangers had a 4-on-1 opportunity, but Miller made a blocker save on the one-timer.
New York does still have a chance to make the playoffs, but they have now lost their game in hand. Tyler Ennis had a career high three points (1G, 2A) in the win Tuesday night.
After scoring three goals, the Rangers pulled Henrik Lundqvist and replaced him with Alex Auld. Neither of the goalies fared well as the Sabres would go on to win by three.
The Sabres have three games remaining, all of which are on the road. This is a chance for Buffalo to get everyone ready for the playoffs. Patrick Lalime will likely get a start or two before the season is over.
Buffalo will first play Boston, who is hungry for points. The Sabres could spoil their playoff chances as well. Then the Sabres will head to Ottawa where the Senators have taken all five meetings this season.
Buffalo will finish the season in New Jersey, which could be a big match. The Sabres and Devils are battling for second place in the Conference. Whoever gets that spot can secure home ice advantage for at least the first two rounds.
The Sabres saluted the fans before leaving the ice. Now, HSBC arena won’t see a game for about a week. Playoff hockey will resume either next Wednesday or Thursday.
The Buffalo Sabres are Northeast Division Champions!