Winners of three straight and six of their last 10, the Buffalo Sabres are clinging to their playoff lives.
Tonight, they’ll need a victory to keep clinging a little longer.
Buffalo faces a must-win at First Niagara Center against the equally desperate New York Rangers — if the Rangers win in regulation, the Sabres’ playoff hopes are dead.
“You want to play in these games, especially when you’re developing the kind of mentality that you need to play in this League,” head coach Ron Rolston told NHL.com. “You want to test your team in those situations and [Friday’s] another test [against a] high-caliber opponent in a situation where you need to be successful.”
The Sabres currently sit 10th in the Eastern Conference with 44 points, four back of New York (48 points). Buffalo has four games left in the regular season including tonight’s affair, while New York has five.
Historically speaking, getting a result against the Rangers tonight should be doable. The Sabres have collected three of four possible points against the Blueshirts this season and won the most recent matchup, 3-1, at First Niagara on Mar. 12.
After tonight’s game, though, the Sabres are facing a tall order.
They’ll head to Pittsburgh on Saturday night to take on the Penguins, then close out against two teams desperate for points in their own respective playoff chases — the Winnipeg Jets and the New York Islanders.
Of course, those games are meaningless if Buffalo doesn’t get a result tonight.
Just ask Rolston.
“We have to take care of our own destiny,” he explained. “We’ve been that way for a while, just concentrating on one game and playing our best in that game.”