The Sabres are playing in front in the standings and hope to do that on the ice tonight against the wounded Florida Panthers, who are 14th in the East and have been shut out in two straight games.
It would be a change from the way Buffalo has played against Florida this season as the Panthers have outscored the Sabres, 7-0, in the first period of the three meetings. The Panthers were blanked Tuesday in Madison Square Garden and again Wednesday in Chicago, with goaltender Tomas Vokoun calling out his teammates after that 4-0 defeat.
"Their desperation should be greater," Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said today when asked about the Panthers' shutout streak, which is at 131 minutes, 24 seconds. "Any time you haven't been on the board offensively, there's always a push to be better. That makes them a club I consider more dangerous."
Florida has been without leading scorer Stephen Weiss the last two games with a leg injury and he's doubtful for tonight.
The Sabres have a three-point lead on Carolina for eighth place and the Canes have a toughie tonight at reeling Tampa Bay, which is just 2-4-4 in its last 10. The Sabres can pull within two points of the idle Rangers and four of idle Montreal with a win and still keep a game in hand over both of those teams.
"When you're chasing, you're looking at hopefully getting some help," said Brad Boyes. "Where we're at is the point that if we can just do things for ourselves and play well, we control our own destiny."
"We're in a situation where we don't have to look behind us," Ruff said. "If we take care of what we have to do, we're in good shape for the rest of the year."
Ruff said Steve Montador will be a game-time decision tonight. He's missed the last two games with a lower-body injury.
"He's doing pretty good," Ruff said. "He's not 100 percent but he's doing well."