NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Saturday, April 9th (All times eastern)
Buffalo Sabres (42-29-10) at Columbus Blue Jackets (34-34-13), 7 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The way the Buffalo Sabres have been playing as of late, it certainly looks like they could make quite a run in the postseason.
The Sabres will try to carry a six-game point streak into the playoffs with their first ever victory at Nationwide Arena tonight over the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Buffalo locked down its second straight trip to the postseason last night when its game with visiting Philadelphia went beyond regulation. Not content to back in, Thomas Vanek scored at 1:16 of the extra frame for a 4-3 victory that improved the Sabres to 4-0-1 in their past five games and 15-4-4 since Feb. 23.
"The way this team's played the last three months, it's pretty exciting here in the locker room," Sabres defenseman Tyler Myers said. "To finally clinch it in the 81st game right here at home, it definitely feels good."
Vanek, coming off a hat trick in Tuesday's win over the Lightning, has seven goals in his past seven games and also had two assists last night, while Nathan Gerbe scored twice, including the game-tying goal in the third period.
Jhonas Enroth was pulled after allowing three goals on 19 shots in two periods. He was replaced by Ryan Miller, who stopped all eight shots he faced the rest of the way to get the win. Miller had missed the previous four games with an upper-body injury after taking a puck up high versus Toronto on March 29.
While Buffalo is into the second season, who it will play is still undecided. The Sabres are tied with the Canadiens for the sixth spot with 94 points, but Montreal has the tiebreaker with more non-shootout wins and visits the Maple Leafs tonight in its regular-season finale.
Buffalo snapped a four-game slide to Columbus with a 5-0 home win on Dec. 3. Miller made 19 saves for the shutout and both Vanek and Tyler Ennis finished with a goal and two assists.
The Blue Jackets had outscored the Sabres, 16-3, over their series winning streak and are 3-0 with a tie in the four all-time meetings in Ohio.
Keeping that perfect mark intact is about the only thing the Blue Jackets have to play for in their season finale tonight. Columbus has lost five straight and 18 of its last 21 overall, and will finish 13th out of 15 teams in the West.
The Blue Jackets' skid was extended last night with a 4-1 setback at Nashville. Derick Brassard had Columbus' goal and Steve Mason gave up all four goals on 25 shots as he was outdueled by the Predators' Pekka Rinne.
"When you have a good goaltender like they do it forces you to shoot more," said Brassard. "There is a lot of frustration in our locker room cause we try hard and put everything we have into every game and it's just not working out for us right now."
Columbus was without leading scorer Rick Nash for a fifth straight game due to a back injury and he won't play tonight either.
The Blue Jackets are 17-18-5 at home this season, losing eight of their past nine as the host.
04/09 11:00:38 ET