NEW YORK -- Only 16 days remain in the NHL season, and this one could have a substantial impact on who makes the playoffs in the Eastern Conference.
The three teams with the best chance to earn the eighth and final spot play tonight. The Sabres visit the first-place New York Rangers and are sure to face a test in Madison Square Garden. Buffalo is on an 11-2-4 run.
"They've got a chance for probably first overall in the league, and they'll push hard for that," Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said. "At this time of year you want to play good hockey. You want to go into the playoffs on a high, and the fact you clinch I don't think makes that big of a difference."
Eighth-place Washington, meanwhile, will host Winnipeg. The Capitals are one point up on the Sabres with an equal number of games played, while Winnipeg is five back of Washington with one fewer game played.
"We've got a big game [today] against Winnipeg, who we feel is going to be maybe a make-or-break game in our season," Washington forward Troy Brouwer told reporters.
Both games start at 7 p.m.