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Sabres beat Canes to hang on to slim wildcard hopes

Mittelstadt & Dahlin become Carolina Reapers

Score: Sabres 4-3 Hurricanes

Shots: BUF: 30 (6-12-12) CAR: 34 (12-10-12)

Buffalo Sabres Goals: Casey Mittelstadt (11), Rasmus Dahlin (15), Casey Mittelstadt (12), Tage Thompson (46)

Carolina Hurricanes Goals: Seth Jarvis (14), Jesper Fast (9), Sebastian Aho (35)

Plus 1: Stayin’ Alive

As the Sabres filed off home ice after the Saturday afternoon matinee win, very aptly blasting through the dressing room speakers was the Bee Gees classic pretty much capturing the mood throughout the fanbase.

At this point the Sabres playoff chances are not in their hands any more, they just need to do what they can and then hope out-of-town results can sustain that flickering flame of hope. With the Florida Panthers, New York Islanders and Pittsburgh Penguins all winning on Saturday too, it’s not looking good.

The Sabres are now 6-1-1 in their last eight, but it’s that one regulation loss that could rankle the most as they fell to fellow wildcard contenders Panthers this week. Against a Canes side that has owned Buffalo – going 14-1-0 in their last 15 games – the Sabres certainly showed up knowing their playoff lives were at stake.

This young roster is learning from some of the adversities they have faced this season and though they’ve been knocked down to close out this regular season, they have also not thrown in the towel and are still playing meaningful games right into the last week of action. There were very, very few of us who can claim to have predicted this outcome for the Sabres this year.

“I think we’re a resilient crew. Things like that come with being a tight group and knowing that we’re going to stick together in tough times. We’ve had our ups and down this year, but we’re still here. We’re still fighting and we’re going to fight all the way to the end.” – Casey Mittelstadt

Plus 2: Rasmus Dahlin

As Sabres fans we are getting used to seeing our Swedish Superstar unleash weapons of mass destruction quite often, but it’s the unsuspecting hockey world that had given up on the 2018 #1 Draft pick that is having the scales fall off their eyes – that Biblical reference reminds me, a very Happy Easter to all those who commemorate it.

The NHL Twitter account captured it quite aptly – “We are not worthy.” but the Sabres account did it better with the slow-mo, no-commentary version, and no words are needed to describe this.‌

‌We will be telling yet-unborn Sabres fans about the legend of this defenseman named Rasmus Dahlin that we had the pleasure of watching with our own eyes many, many years from now.

Dahlin finished the night with one goal and two assists for three points to go with his four blocks. This puts him at 15 goals and 57 assists for the season; his 72 points is one behind the tied pair of Dougie Hamilton and Quinn Hughes, but well off the runaway leader Erik Karlsson at an otherworldly 98 points, the highest since Brian Leetch’s 1991-92 season with a total of 102.

Plus 3: Everything Else

As our soccer-loving friends would describe it, this was downright naughty from Jeff Skinner. He laid on a pass that Leo Messi would be proud of for Casey Mittelstadt’s first of the night.

Can we like this guy any more? Fresh from his starring role in the groundbreaking hit television interview series Between Two Stalls, Skinner’s infectious enthusiasm is one of the most-lovable things about these Sabres.

Speaking of which, loved the energy in the arena for Kids Appreciation Day. When the final horn went off it sounded like a playoff win. The barn was loud and the vibe was fun, and the players seemed to respond to the atmosphere too. Buffalo’s poor home record has certainly contributed to their demise, so maybe the secret to fixing it is more of these themed nights next season?

While we’re talking about youth, why not send out a shoutout to Devon Levi who was again stellar in net in his fourth start in nine days, going 3-1 in that stretch with a 3.17 GAA and .904 save percentage.

Let’s close out with this incredible transition play, something the Sabres have really done so well this season. Starting from the awareness that Dahlin shows here to block that goalbound shot to Tage Thompson’s slapper for the gamewinner, this was exciting hockey!

Final Thoughts

The Sabres got the job done when the season basically turned into a Game 7, and it will be heartening that it was their best players all season long who are showing up when they needed key goals.

“It’s hard to coach teams when you have success. Teams sometimes lose the ability to pay attention to details. Sometimes you’re going to fail and you just got to learn from it and move on competitively. ‌‌”You got to keep pushing that initiative. We have a long way to go. But we’ve been able to come quite a ways this year through that adversity and challenge.” – D0n Granato

They’re going to have to do it all over again with the upcoming back-to-back on Monday and Tuesday night at the playoffs-bound New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils.

Comment of the Game

Dereks Artificial Plante (great handle BTW!) nailed it for me here.

I have to say, this has been an immensely enjoyable season. This group is really easy to like. They have so much youthful enthusiasm. They play exciting offensive hockey. I’m actually watching a sabres game in April!‌‌‌ Their window is going to be open for a while. Can’t wait!