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Saturday, April 10th (All times eastern)

Buffalo Sabres (44-26-10) at Ottawa Senators (44-31-6), 7 p.m.

(Sports Network) - A pair of playoff teams will meet tonight in Canada's capital city as the Ottawa Senators host the rival Buffalo Sabres at Scotiabank Place.

The Northeast Division champion Sabres have secured at least the third seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs, while Ottawa is locked into the conference's fifth spot.

Buffalo is just one point behind New Jersey and Pittsburgh, who are still battling for the Atlantic Division title. The Devils and Penguins are both playing today and, like the Sabres, they each have two games left. Buffalo will complete its regular season Sunday in New Jersey.

The Sabres are closing the regular season on a three-game road trip and they began the swing on a down note, losing a 3-1 decision Thursday in Boston. Dennis Wideman scored the go-ahead goal early in the third period to lift the Bruins. The setback dropped Buffalo to 19-16-4 as the guest this season.

Derek Roy had the lone goal for the Sabres. Patrick Lalime started in place of Ryan Miller, who was given the night off, and turned aside 31 shots. Lalime is expected to start two of Buffalo's final three regular-season games to give Miller a rest heading into the playoffs.

"We need more desperation in our game," Lalime said. "We need to create more. It makes all the difference this time of the year to see the openings in your end or the other end. Everybody has to give a little more in the last couple of games."

Buffalo is expected to get sniper Thomas Vanek back on the ice tonight after he missed the last five games with a lower-body injury. Vanek has 23 goals on the year, placing him third on the Sabres this season.

Sabres forward Tim Connolly, who is tied for the team lead with 65 points, is expected to miss his sixth straight game today, while defenseman Craig Rivet is questionable again with flu-like symptoms. Rivet has missed the last two games with the illness.

Ottawa has dominated the season series with the Sabres recently, winning all five meetings this year and nine in a row overall. The Sens have won five straight and 10 of the last 12 encounters on home ice.

With everything but their first-round playoff opponent determined, the Senators will play their final regular-season game of the season tonight. Ottawa has played well down the stretch, posting a 7-1-1 record in its last nine outings, but has lost two of its last three.

The Sens were dealt a shootout loss Thursday in Tampa Bay, as Teddy Purcell scored the lone goal of the deciding phase to lift the Lightning to a 4-3 win.

Jason Spezza had a goal and an assist for the Senators, who were guaranteed the fifth seed in the East after Pittsburgh beat the Islanders on Thursday. Ottawa's opponent in the first round will be either New Jersey or Pittsburgh -- whichever team does not win the Atlantic Division.

Brian Elliott made 26 saves in defeat.

"I thought once of the physical play picked up, we really started to play much better," said Senators head coach Cory Clouston. "If you give up three straight goals, no momentum on our side -- I thought once we started being more involved physically, emotions got going, and we started competing a lot harder."

Ottawa has an excellent 26-10-4 record as the host this year and will try to add another win at Scotiabank Place tonight.

04/10 10:34:00 ET


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