Don’t look now but the Buffalo Sabres are just three points out of the final wildcard spot. In fairness, they are just a point out of last place in the East too, but that talks to the competitiveness more than anything.
That doesn’t change the fact that out of every team that is currently in the two wildcard spots and below, only the Toronto Maple Leafs have registered more points in their last ten games than the Sabres.
With six wins and an overtime loss, the Sabres have gained ground on the rest of the East that are trying to find themselves.
Leading the charge for Buffalo has been goaltender Robin Lehner who, aside from a meltdown in Toronto, has been solid in the net for the Sabres. The 25-year old Swedish goaltender has been on a nice little ride in his last ten starts, going 6-3-1 in that span. He has stayed busy, having to make at least 30 saves in all but two of the last ten, and three contests in which he faced 38 or more.
Lehner has posted a goal against average (GAA) and a .925 save percentage (SV%) in his last ten games, which includes the game against the Maple Leafs in which he was yanked after allowing three goals on 16 shots.
He was brilliant in the Sabres come from behind win – the second in as many nights – against the Montreal Canadiens, stopping 36-of-38 shots, including a couple that is going straight to his highlight reel.
Maybe the biggest of which came in overtime, robbing Canadiens center Alex Galchenyuk of a potential game-winner.
Buffalo would win the game just 13 seconds later, as Zach Bogosian scored the game-winner.
That wasn’t the only big save of the night for Lehner, as he also robbed Max Pacioretty back in the first keeping the score 0-0 for the moment.
The road to making the playoffs in the East is going to be a tough one, especially for the Sabres. The fact that they are closer to last place than to a playoff spot, despite being a win and an overtime loss away from grabbing the second wildcard spot speaks volumes to that. It may be a year or two too soon for the Sabres, but this current streak and flirtation with a playoff spot are certainly good signs moving forward.