Buffalo Sabres Having Trouble Closing Out Games

The Sabres don't seem to be able to hold on to a lead and win in regulation these days. That's going to make it very tough to climb back into the Eastern Conference playoff race.

The Buffalo Sabres entered the final seven minutes of last night's game against New Jersey in prime position, up 2-0. However, they left Newark with just one point after losing in a shootout.

This is not a new feeling for Sabres fans, who have seen this team blow a third period lead before. When that happens, they don't always lose, but even allowing the game to go in to overtime is bad; with the Eastern Conference only schedule, more three point games will make it harder and harder for Buffalo to climb back in to the playoff race.

Despite earning a point last night, the Sabres slid back to 14th place in the East, five points out of eighth and just two points ahead of last place Washington. Had they won in regulation, they would have been just three points behind eighth place New Jersey, but by letting the Devils back into the game, they're now six points behind seventh place Jersey.

Just a few games ago, the Sabres let Florida tie the game in the third to take it to a shootout. They did the same thing against Jersey last week, leading late in the third, and they took a 1-0 lead into the third period against the Rangers before that game went in to overtime. Going back into the past, games against Toronto and Pittsburgh stand out due to lost third period leads. Yes, the Sabres ended up winning some of those games, but by inflating other team's point totals with the loser point, it just makes it more difficult for the blue and gold to keep up.

If there's any hope of the playoffs this season - and they are just five points out - the Sabres need to start winning in regulation, and they need to improve on their 2-0-2 record when taking a lead into the third period.