The Buffalo Sabres march into Detroit to take on the Red Wings in the season finale tonight.
Detroit just had a six-game winning streak snapped on Thursday by dropping a 4-1 decision to Pittsburgh.
Meanwhile, the Sabres were able to avoid losing nine straight, with a 5-2 win against Ottawa, also on Thursday night.
This is the fourth and final meeting between the two Atlantic Division foes. Buffalo currently has a 2-1 lead in the season series, by winning the first two contests. Detroit scored a victory in the latest tilt in overtime, in Buffalo, by a score of 5-4.
The Sabres skate into this contest looking to put an end to a very up and down season, full of more downs lately than ups. Jason Pominville though provided a “feel-good” moment on Thursday, however, scoring what could be his last goal in a Sabres uniform, in front of the home crowd.
With Alexander Nylander still on the shelf with a lower-body injury, the line-up will remain largely the same, with Victor Olofsson still playing left-wing on the top unit. Olofsson has shown very well in this short stint, notching four points in five contests, giving Sabres fans some optimism that the organization has another running mate for their captain.
The Red Wings, who also failed to qualify for the post-season are coming into this contest on the opposite side of the Sabres. Detroit had previously won their last six games prior to the defeat against Pittsburgh. It’s an interesting contest because the winner will finish ahead of the loser in the overall standings, which could play a large role in Tuesday’s upcoming NHL Draft Lottery.
Center Dylan Larkin also has a chance at making Red Wings history tonight. The pivot currently leads Detroit in goals, assists, points, and penalty minutes on the season. If those numbers stay that way, he’ll be the first player to lead in all of those categories during the regular season since the 1926-1927 season that we all remember so well. The player he would tie with? Johnny Sheppard. I had to look him up as well! Still, an impressive feat if he can achieve it.
As has been the case for the last few months, the Sabres goaltender platoon continues. Linus Ullmark gets the crease for the final day of the season. The young goalie has lost his last five starts, however, in two of those losses, he only allowed two goals. For his young career, Ullmark sports a 2-0-2 record against Detroit, with a .918 save percentage, and a 2.85 goals-against-average.
For Detroit, Jimmy Howard gets the nod. Howard had won his previous four starts, before dropping the contest to Pittsburgh on Thursday night. He has been sensational against the Sabres in his career (where have we heard that before) going 11-2-3, with one no-decision in 17 games played. The underlying numbers back up that record, as he’s posted a .931 save percentage, and a 1.85 goals-against-average.