It’s the first of two road games to end the regular season, and the Sabres are looking for four points to close it out.
The Flyers have won each of the first three games, but there is no better time for Buffalo to find a way to win. The Sabres have been outscored 15-8, including a most recent 7-2 beating in February (the other two were one-goal games).
In three games without Tyler Myers and Christian Ehrhoff, the team has allowed 14 goals, but they managed to get the win against Toronto, keeping them alive in the playoff race. It took 45 shots on goal, but Jason Pominville finally netted the game-winner.
“We went through that game, we went through the first period, went through the chances, and emphasized the importance of staying inside some of the mistakes we made,” Ruff said. “Some of it was lack of communication. Some of it was the coverage. But we do have to tighten up, there’s no secret. That’s on myself and my staff to make sure that we tighten up those areas so it’s not a game where you give 16 or 17 [chances]. We’ve got to get it back to the norm, which is somewhere around 10 or 11, in that area. And not give up the high quality.” – NHL.com
Even without Daniel Briere, the Flyers are a dangerous team. Claude Giroux has six points in the past two games, and 10 points (1 G, 9 A) in three games against Buffalo this season.
Buffalo need to find a way to win the next two games, but what also is a big factor is tomorrow’s game between Washington and Florida. The Capitals can still win their division, and the Sabres could still catch the Panthers, but Florida need just one more point to clinch 3rd place.
There is one possible way in which the Sabres can be eliminated from playoff contention Thursday night: If Buffalo loses in regulation and Washington beats Florida in overtime/shootout.
There are two possible way the Sabres could control their own destiny heading into the final game of the season: If Buffalo wins vs. Philadelphia, and the Capitals get 1 or 0 points OR Buffalo loses in OT/SO and Capitals get 0 points.
The most important thing is a win for Buffalo, or even a point. If the Sabres register at least a point, it will guarantee that their season will come down to the final game.
Buffalo and Washington each play their final two games on Apr. 5th and 7th. The season could very well come down to Saturday, the final day of the regular season. That would have Buffalo in Boston at 4 p.m. and the Capitals visiting the Rangers at 6:30 p.m.
Tonight’s game is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m.