The only time fans used to leave HSBC Arena early was when the Sabres had a huge lead and the outcome had long been decided. Lately when fans leave, it's because the Sabres are trailing and the result is all but final in favor of the visitors.
If the Sabres are to make the playoffs, they'll have to play better at home. They are just 1-4-1 in the past six games at the foot of Washington Street. The Sabres went 55-21-6 at home the past two years. This season, they are 17-13-4.
"Home should be an advantage, and lately it hasn't been that way," captain Jason Pominville said.
Coach Lindy Ruff put a positive spin on Wednesday's 3-1 loss to the Capitals, but no matter how well he felt the team played, one simple fact remains. Time is running out. Only 14 games remain, and the Sabres are out of a playoff spot.
"We didn't get enough pucks at their net, but we didn't have the best legs," Ruff said. "We didn't skate our way out of some situations. Positionally, we did a pretty darn good job. We let [Alexander] Ovechkin get in behind us, which hurt us. That guy's dangerous. He doesn't miss too often."
Fans shouldn't miss Ovechkin's games, either. The guy does it all, and has fun doing it. There's a reason Washington is climbing toward the playoffs, and he's it. That 13-year, $124 million extension he recently got? He's trying to show he deserves it.
"He's one of the biggest game-breakers in the league," Washington goalie Olie Kolzig said. "He's ridiculous. Everybody said after he signed that big contract that there was going to be a drop-off. It's the exact opposite. He's actually elevated his game."
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