BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — The Sabres will miss the Stanley Cup playoffs for an NHL record 12th consecutive year, but all was not lost in the first winning campaign of the postseason drought.

Closing out the season with a 5-2 victory Friday night at Columbus, the Sabres finished with 91 points (42-33-7), their most since the 2011 team that qualified for the playoffs with 96 points (43-29-10).

With more wins than losses for the 27th time in 52 seasons, the Sabres’ 42 victories rank 14th in franchise history. That’s more than 16 Sabres teams that made the playoffs, including the 1999 Stanley Cup finalists who had a 37-28-17 record, the Eastern Conference semifinalists from the season before who went 36-29-17, and the high-scoring 1993 Sabres who won a first-round playoff series on “May Day” after going 38-36-10. Even without counting three shootout victories, this year’s Sabres had more wins than any of those teams

In the end, the Sabres came up one win short of ending what is now tied for the longest playoff drought in North American professional sports, placing behind the Florida Panthers (92 points) and New York Islanders (93 points) in the race for two wild-card spots in the East.

Buffalo finished with a 9-2-1 flourish, the best 12-game stretch of the season for the NHL’s youngest lineup.

The late-season optimism was boosted by rookie goaltender Devon Levi starting seven of the last nine games. He made 29 saves against the Blue Jackets to end his age-21 season with a 5-2-0 record, .901 save percentage, and 2.94 goals-against average.

With the win at Columbus, the Sabres finished with a 25-13-3 road record, tied for the second-best in team history and one point short of the franchise record (25-12-4) the Sabres set on their way to winning the President’s Trophy in 2007. Buffalo’s 17-20-4 record at home, however, was the team’s eighth-worst all-time.

The Sabres were at their best in retrograde on home ice, going 10-1-1 in games wearing their throwback “goat head” jerseys.

With the Sabres averaging 3.61 goals per game, their most in 16 seasons, several skaters had career years.

Tage Thompson, who did not play in the finale due to an upper-body injury he had been battling over the last few weeks, became the fourth player in franchise history to score 47 goals. He also tallied 47 assists. Only Pat LaFonatine and Alexander Mogiliny in 1993 have surpassed both of those benchmarks in the same season.

Jeff Skinner had a goal and two assists against the Blue Jackets to record a career-best 81 points (35 goals, 46 assists).

Linemate Alex Tuch tallied his 36th goal and 79th point to raise his career-high totals.

Dylan Cozens had a breakout season at age 22, scoring 31 goals and recording his 37th assist against Columbus.

Casey Mittelstadt, who took over as the top-line center at the end of the season with Thompson injured, scored his 15th goal and recorded his 54th assist, both career-highs. Mittelstadt had 15 points over the final 10 games.

All-Star defenseman Rasmus Dahlin had 15 goals and 58 assists, the most blue-line production the Sabres have gotten since Phil Housley was building his Hall of Fame resume.

The Sabres also had three of the top 10 rookie scorers in the NHL this season: Jack Quinn (37 points), defenseman Owen Power (35 points), and JJ Peterka (32 points).


Jonah Bronstein joined the News 4 roster in 2022 as a digital sports reporter. Read more of his work here.