BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — The Sabres are playing meaningful hockey in the second week of April for the first time since the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Yet, the longest postseason drought in NHL history could soon be extended into a 12th season — even if the Sabres keep winning.
With four games left to play over the final five days of the regular season, Buffalo (39-32-7) has 85 points in the standings, six behind the Florida Panthers and New York Islanders, and five back of the Pittsburgh Penguins in the race for two wild-card spots in the Eastern Conference playoffs.
The Sabres can still get up to 93 points, with two games in hand on the other teams in the wild-card race entering a back-to-back road trip Monday night against the New York Rangers before visiting Lindy Ruff and the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday. Another regulation loss would eliminate Buffalo from playoff contention. An overtime loss could still allow the Sabres to make the playoffs with 92 points.
Even with a victory Monday night, however, the Sabres could be knocked out of the playoff picture if both the Panthers and Islanders also win. Florida hosts Toronto and New York visits Washington.
The Sabres would lose a tiebreaker with both the Panthers and Islanders by virtue of having fewer regulation victories. Buffalo currently has 29 and can finish with no more than 33, while the Panthers already have 36 wins in regulation, and the Islanders have 35.
Pittsburgh plays at Chicago on Tuesday and close out the regular season Thursday night in Columbus. The Penguins need three points in those games to ensure finishing ahead of the Sabres.
Buffalo finishes the season hosting Ottawa on Thursday night at KeyBank Center and visiting Columbus on Friday for a game that was rescheduled during the December blizzard.
Jonah Bronstein joined the WIVB squad in 2022 as a digital sports reporter. The Buffalonian has covered the Bills, Sabres, Bandits, Bisons, colleges, high schools and other notable sporting events in Western New York since 2005, for publications including The Associated Press, The Buffalo News, and Niagara Gazette. Read more of his work here.