East Playoff Race Heats Up As Sabres Take on The Habs


It’s that time of the year in the NHL, when bubble teams—and teams on the edge—begin making their final playoff push.

Saturday’s Hockey Night In Canada match up had major playoff implications for both teams as the struggling Montreal Canadiens tried to hang on to eighth place in the East and the Buffalo Sabres tried to claw back into the playoff race.

Coming into the night, the Sabres were on the outside looking in.

With eight games left in the season, they were five-points behind the eighth place Habs and three behind the ninth place Panthers…needless to say, this was pretty much a must-win game for Buffalo.

The Habs had the benefit of playing at the raucous Bell Centre, but had been on a pretty rough slide themselves.

Since, the firing of Head Coach Guy Carbonneau, Montreal has been a mediocre 3-3-3, while barely hanging on to the 8th and final spot.

With less than five minutes left in the first period, Adam Mair struck first for Buffalo, scoring his eighth goal of the season from Hecht and Lydman.

Buffalo scored once again early in the second off an unassisted goal by Tim Connolly who notched his 17th.

The Habs made a fierce comeback, scoring three goals in a span of eight minutes; two courtesy of Alexei Kovalev who has picked it up right when he needed to.

Buffalo managed to score four minute into the third period, but that would do it for regulation.

Too bad for Buffalo, they let Montreal get a point. By this point in the game, Florida had already beaten Dallas 6-3, so the extra point became that much more important to both teams.

Overtime was pretty uneventful, but the shootout is where the stars came to shine.

Ryan Miller had already made 32 saves, while Carey Price had made 34.

In any other game, their performances would’ve been enough for the easy “W,” but not tonight.

Five rounds into the shootout, both goalies were perfect…until Toni Lydman stepped out onto the face-off dot.

On a risky move by Coach Lindy Ruff, Lydman took to the ice for his first ever shootout attempt and did the move ever pay off.

Lydman put the puck through the five-hole as victory came within grasp of the Swordsmen.

All that was needed was for Ryan Miller to shut the door one more time and luckily he didn’t need to, with Maxim Lapierre missing wide on his attempt.

The win allows Buffalo to gain ground by one-point on the Habs and stayed on par with the Panthers.

With seven games to go, Buffalo needs to buckle down and play some shut-down defense while getting some offense from superstar Tomas Vanek.

As for Montreal, it looks like Carey Price is regaining some of that old confidence, but is it too late for them to hang on to the final spot?

It’s going to be a tough job especially with the surging Panthers hot on their tail.

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