Experiencing their worst losing streak of the season, the Buffalo Sabres do not look like a team poised to make their first postseason appearance since 2000-01.
The Sabres will try to avoid a seventh straight loss when they host the Northeast Division rival Boston Bruins, whom they have dominated this season.
Buffalo won a season-high eight consecutive games from March 3-16, but has lost all six games since. The Sabres are fourth in the Eastern Conference playoff standings and while its postseason spot does not appear to be in jeopardy, Buffalo’s seeding could be if it continues to slide over the final 11 games of the season.
“There’s no doubt in my mind that we’re going to get it turned around,” co-captain Daniel Briere said. “We see the light at the end of the tunnel. … There’s no doubt in my mind that it’s going to make us a better team and a stronger team.”
The Sabres held a two-goal lead to start the third period Monday, but gave up two unanswered goals and was held scoreless in the shootout, losing 5-4 to the New York Rangers.
Briere had a goal and two assists and Chris Drury added a goal and an assist for the Sabres, who were 2-for-4 on the power play after converting just 1-of-29 in the previous five games.
The Sabres are mired in their worst losing streak since a seven-game skid from Dec. 4-19, 2003.
“We may, in the long run, get a lot more out of this stretch than you can imagine,” coach Lindy Ruff said. “And it may be the best thing going into the playoffs.”
Buffalo has won its last three meetings at home against the Bruins, outscoring them 13-5.
In seven games between the teams this season, Thomas Vanek has three goals and six assists, Ales Kotalik has four goals and four assists, and Briere has three goals and five assists while leading the Sabres to a 6-1 record.
Boston is in 13th place in the East and will likely miss the postseason for the first time in four seasons.
The Bruins are trying to snap a six-game road losing skid during which they have averaged just 2.5 goals per game.
Boston goaltender Tim Thomas initially stopped Olli Jokinen’s shot in the tiebreaker, but it trickled into the net as he fell to the ice. It gave the Bruins their 13th loss in 17 games and dropped them to an NHL-worst 1-8 in shootouts.
“I don’t know. I thought I saved him,” said Thomas, who made 45 saves. “If it weren’t for bad luck, I’d have no luck at all.”