The Buffalo Sabres need a victory to equal the most they’ve had in more than two decades. To do so, they will need to win in a place that has given them nothing but trouble for the last two years.
The Sabres try to end a four-game losing streak in Ottawa when they meet the Senators at Scotiabank Place in the season-series finale between the top two teams in the Northeast Division.
Buffalo needs a win to match the 48 posted by the 1983-84 team that lost an Adams Division Semifinal. The franchise record for wins in a season is 49 by the 1974-75 team, which lost to Philadelphia in the Stanley Cup final.
The Sabres have struggled recently in the Canadian capital city, having been outscored 22-4 in four losses since Feb. 28, 2004.
Buffalo saw its seven-game home unbeaten streak against the Flyers end with a 4-2 loss on Friday. Tim Connolly and Ales Kotalik scored second-period goals for the Sabres, who had not lost to Philadelphia in western New York since April 8, 2001.
“We dug ourselves a hole, and we tried to dig ourselves out of it,” Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said. “We kept it close until late, but they didn’t give up a lot. Our passing was awful and our shooting was worse.”
Ryan Miller made 30 saves in the loss, but he continues to struggle. Starting with a 4-2 loss to Ottawa on March 18, Miller is just 1-6-1 in his last eight starts with a 3.99 goals-against average and .876 save percentage.
Ottawa, which is tied with Carolina for the Eastern Conference lead, is looking to avoid its first three-game losing streak of the season. After falling 5-4 in overtime to the Sabres on Wednesday, the Senators lost the next night to Montreal 5-3.
Dany Heatley scored twice against the Canadiens to set new team records for goals (47) and points (95) in a season.
“It’s nice but I would have liked to do it in a different game,” Heatley said.
Heatley has five goals and three assists in seven games versus Buffalo this season.
The Sens received some promising news Friday. Six-time Vezina Trophy winning goaltender Dominik Hasek practiced without pads after missing almost two months with a groin injury.
The 41-year-old Hasek said he plans to practice in full pads Saturday morning and all but guaranteed he’d be ready to go for the postseason, but wouldn’t make any predictions on his return before then.
“I’m focused on being ready to play,” he said. “I cannot say it’s going to be in five days, seven days or 10 days. My goal is to be ready as soon as possible.”