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Sabres move closer to playoff berth

What an up-and-down weekend for the Buffalo Sabres.

After Friday's discouraging 5-4 overtime loss to the Washington Capitals, the Sabres played a tough game against the Carolina Hurricanes today picking up the 2-1 win in overtime.

The most important outcome of this mini-road trip for the Sabres was that they picked up three out of four possible points and now sit comfortably in seventh place with 90 points. With only three games left, the Sabres could still miss the playoffs, but given the caliber of their play recently, they're practically a lock at this point. 

Today's game was kind of a strange affair. Chris Butler and Marc-Andre Gragnani, two defensemen not known for scoring, tallied the Sabres' goals. Gragnani, who scored the overtime game winner, got his first career goal in his sixth game with the Sabres this season filling in for an injured Jordan Leopold.

Jhonas Enroth was again excellent in goal stopping 35 of 36 shots. My favorite moment was when he had to throw off his helmet and then still made a pad save. That showed good instincts and certain level of fearlessness. He his performance in place of an injured Ryan Miller has been admirable, especially in this critical stretch when the Sabres are fighting for a playoff spot.

In what was a physical and sometimes dirty game, the Sabres got called for seven penalties and Carolina only three. There were a few facepalm moments in terms of the officiating; I try to cut these guys some slack, but their calls defenitely favored Carolina. Fortunately, the Sabres were able to overcome this and kill all thier penalites, hopefully that doesn't become an issue in the playoffs though. No need to remind Sabres fans of that infamous call in the 1999 Stanley Cup.

The Sabres are playing good hockey right now and they'll need to keep it up to maintain their playoff position. The next two games are against Tampa Bay and Philadelphia, two teams still playing for playoff positioning, before they finish the year against Columbus. I expect them to win two of the last three, but if they win all three there's a real chance that they nab the sixth spot in the Eastern Conference.


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