Matchup: Detroit Red Wings vs. Buffalo Sabres
Venue: First Niagara Center; Buffalo, NY
Time: 7:00 PM EST
Television: Detroit-FSD; Buffalo- MSG Buffalo
The Detroit Red Wings (37-27-14, 88 points, 4th place Atlantic Division) are on the verge of clinching their 23rd consecutive playoff berth thanks to their strong play down the stretch, and opposing teams faltering at the same time. Two weeks ago, it seemed like there was still a good chance that the Red Wings playoff streak would end and they would be watching the playoffs from home. Since then, the Red Wings started playing their most consistent hockey of the season and teams such as Toronto, Washington, and Columbus began to falter which left open the door for the Red Wings to step in. The Red Wings took full advantage and now are in the top Wild Card spot with only four games remaining. The Red Wings need only three points out of their last four games to clinch a playoff berth without the help of anyone else and it is possible to do that Wednesday night against a banged up Pittsburgh team.
The Buffalo Sabres (21-48-9, 51 points, 8th place Atlantic Division) are mathematically eliminated from playoff contention for the season, though that is not likely to make them roll over for the Red Wings. Buffalo will come into tonight trying to play the roll of spoiler, though they face a tall task in that front. The Sabres trail the season series with the Red Wings 0-3 and haven't beaten the Red Wings in seven straight games. Buffalo also comes into tonight on a three game losing streak and they ahve lost six of their past seven games overall. After tonight's game, Buffalo will hit the road for games in New York and Boston before their season comes to an end on April 13th against the Islanders.
Starting in goal for the Red Wings will be Jimmy Howard. Howard was in net last Friday evening in Detroit's 3-2 in over Buffalo before he got a night off Saturday against the Canadiens.
Buffalo will counter with Matt Hackett tonight against the Red Wings. Hackett gave up three goals to the Red Wings in the first period Friday evening, before settling down and not allowing anymore while still giving his team a chance to win.