Making the playoffs might be a tall order for the Buffalo Sabres, but the fight remains there.
However, if the Sabres are to win a season-high fourth straight game, they’ll need to end their recent road struggles against the Ottawa Senators on Tuesday night.
Buffalo, which last reached the playoffs in 2010-11, entered Monday nine points out of the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference. However, the Sabres closed out a four-game homestand with their third consecutive victory, 5-2 over Toronto on Sunday.
Johan Larsson had one goal with an assist, and Jack Eichel scored his 33rd as the Sabres broke open a 2-2 game with three third-period goals. With the win, Buffalo improved to 5-2-1 in February.
“Every game for the rest of the year is going to be big for us,” Eichel told the Sabres’ official website.
“We’re starting to get the confidence going again in the room, and I think that’s everything. You see we’re getting contributions throughout the lineup.”
Eichel has nine goals and 23 points over his past 20 games.
Buffalo, which has played nine of its past 10 games at home, begins a stretch of six of the next seven on the road. The Sabres have won three of their past four away from home but have been outscored 11-3 during a three-game losing streak at Ottawa.
That included a 3-1 loss there on Dec. 23.
Ottawa is 4-10-7 since that victory, but one of those wins was a 5-2 decision at Buffalo on Jan. 28, and two more victories have come over the past three contests to begin a six-game home stretch. Artem Anisimov scored 3:48 into overtime, and Brady Tkachuk had a goal with two assists in Sunday’s 4-3 victory that ended Dallas’ four-game winning streak.
“For us to get two points that’s huge for us,” Tkachuk, who has three goals with four assists over a six-game stretch, told the Senators’ official website. “Hopefully we can build off this.”
Tkachuk has a goal with three assists in Ottawa’s three games with Buffalo this season, with the Senators winning two. Craig Anderson, who stopped 36 shots against Dallas on Sunday, has a 2.02 goals-against average while starting all three games against Buffalo this season.
Ottawa’s Marcus Hogberg, who continues to see time as Anders Nilsson recovers from a concussion that has kept him out since mid-December, owns a 3.02 goals-against average during a 1-4-2 starting stretch.
Meanwhile, Buffalo’s Carter Hutton has a 2.23 goals-against average during a four-game winning streak. However, he’s yielded seven goals while losing his last two starts at Ottawa. Jonas Johansson, up while Linus Ullmark deals with a lower-body injury, is 0-1-1 with a 2.97 goals-against average as a starter this month.
Eichel posted a four-goal game during Buffalo’s 4-2 home victory over the Senators on Nov. 16.
The Senators’ Jean-Gabriel Pageau, the subject of trade rumors ahead of next week’s NHL trade deadline, has a team-high 22 goals.
Teammate and All-Star Anthony Duclair has a career-high 21 goals for Ottawa, but none over his past 21 games.
–Field Level Media