If the Sabres want to extend their three-day stay in an Eastern Conference playoff spot, they have to get at least one point tonight. Otherwise, they'll hand their postseason destiny back to the Washington Capitals (and Ottawa Senators).
The Capitals and Sabres are again tied in points after Washington's 3-2 shootout victory over Boston on Thursday. The Sabres have eighth place at the moment based on one fewer game played, but a regulation loss to Pittsburgh tonight in First Niagara Center would drop Buffalo into ninth. Washington owns the tiebreaker of regulation and overtime wins (and almost assuredly will own it through the remainder of the season).
"Everything is extremely important, and it’s really playoff hockey right now," Sabres defenseman Mike Weber said. "Teams are ramped up and playing extremely solid. We’ve just got to keep playing the way we’ve been playing."
A victory by Buffalo would again put the Sabres two points ahead of Washington, while an overtime or shootout loss would move the Sabres one point up. A victory would give the Sabres the same number of points as seventh-place Ottawa. The idle Senators, though, would maintain the seventh spot based on both fewer games played (one) and regulation and overtime victories.
"I think the key is you have to keep looking up. Don't look down," Sabres General Manager Darcy Regier said Thursday on the "NHL Hour with Commissioner Gary Bettman" radio show. "What that means for us is, well, there's Ottawa two points in front of us, we've played even games, let's see if we can chase Ottawa in these remaining games. … To look down and try to hold on to something is probably not the right mind-set to take."