If you look back on Saturday’s shootout loss the Carolina Hurricanes, remember how bad the ice was? The puck was bouncing all over the place the entire night. It actually led to Carolina’s goal that gave them a 1-0 lead, but it also cost Sam Reinhart in the shootout as it bounced away on his attempt.
Well, on Monday night the Detroit Red Wings paid a visit to Carolina and the game ended up being postponed around 8 p.m. EST due to a condition with the ice. The cooling system wasn’t working properly and the ice wasn’t at the right temperature. It makes you think how much of an issue this was when Buffalo played there.
Despite that, we move on. Dmitry Kulikov makes his return to Florida, where he played seven seasons. It’s the first time he’ll face his former team.
More importantly, the Sabres have a big opportunity to advance in the standings. This can be said on any given night, but with the Atlantic Division so tight, facing divisional opponents make for huge games.
A regulation win tonight would have Buffalo move past the Florida Panthers. They would also leap frog either the loser of the Detroit Red Wings vs. Tampa Bay Lightning game, unless that goes into overtime.
Even though the Sabres’ playoff odds sit around 20 percent, they’re actually not in a bad position. They’ve been doing much better with the return of Jack Eichel, and are still six points behind 3rd placed Boston. Buffalo has played three fewer games than the Bruins, though, and have those two meetings against them next week.
“I thought Jack’s first two games after his injury were great,” Dan Bylsma said. “The next few he felt the effects of not playing for a while. He’s started to feel a lot better since then. He’s put in some tough work. Looks like he has that extra gear.”
Now is the time for the Sabres to rattle off some wins. Falling behind now would have them playing catchup for another month or two, at the least.