Mar 7, 2012, 10:27 PM EDT
Tough to Ward off
Ward has been a thorn in the side of Eastern Conference playoff bubble challengers in the last two nights. It’s easy to beat up on the Washington Capitals for losing another important game on Tuesday, but Ward needed to stop 46 out of 49 shots for the Canes to beat the Caps in overtime. With just 24 hours of rest, Ward nearly repeated the feat against Buffalo but his 39-for-42 output fell just a bit short.
With this win, the Buffalo Sabres’ playoff hopes keep kicking. Seeing the Toronto Maple Leafs drop a 3-2 regulation loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins won’t hurt, either. Here’s your bubble update:
8. Winnipeg: 72 points, 15 games remaining
9. Washington: 70 points, 16 GR
10. Buffalo: 70 points, 15 GR
11. Tampa Bay: 68 points, 16 GR
12. Toronto: 67 points, 15 GR
Perhaps the most promising element is that the Sabres are the hottest team of the bunch. Buffalo is an impressive 7-1-2 in its last 10 games and is right up there with Washington and Tampa Bay in the “on paper talent” category.
Better yet, the Capitals and Jets face some scheduling stumbling blocks, the Maple Leafs remain in something of an identity crisis and the Lightning will be without their most competent goalie for perhaps the rest of the season.
It hasn’t always been pretty, but Buffalo is in a great spot to make the playoffs with an improbable end run down the stretch. If you’re the New York Rangers, do you really want to see Ryan Miller and a varied offensive attack in the first round?
- How bad are things for the Kings after Monday? 4
- Lightning clinch playoff berth, but did they lose Hedman? 6
- Blackhawks tease good injury news for Kane 7
- Tough times in Tampa: Garrison out 3-4 weeks after ‘pretty dirty’ Abdelkader hit 22
- Playoff watch — what the bubble teams need to do 29
- NHL on NBCSN: Stakes high for Kings, ‘Hawks tonight 21
- Blackhawks’ Sharp: ‘We knew we had to get two points’ 12
- Video: Brian Engblom takes a puck to the head 13
- Flames jump back into third in Pacific, beat Preds 6
- Letang concussed, Penguins will dress five defensemen 18