A fourth victory in six games on Saturday gave the Buffalo Sabres' playoff chances a little bit of life. To keep those hopes alive, the Sabres will have to find a way to pick up a rare victory on consecutive days as they play host on Sunday to the Tampa Bay Lightning.
The Sabres had been outscored 9-2 over a two-game slide, but one goal was enough to beat the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday. Jhonas Enroth made 29 saves to record his third career shutout in the 1-0 victory, while Christian Ehrhoff scored the lone goal 17 seconds into the third period.
Ehrhoff was credited with his fifth goal of the season when his shot from the left point careened off the end boards and deflected off the right pad of Flyers' goaltender Steve Mason.
It was the kind of break that the Sabres needed as they sit in a tie for 10th overall in the Eastern Conference with the New Jersey Devils. They sit six points behind the New York Rangers for the eighth seed with six games to play, one less than the Rangers.
That leaves Buffalo almost no room for error in this back end of games on consecutive days. The Sabres improved to 4-2-2 in the first game of such sets with Saturday's win, but have just a 1-5-1 record in the second contest.
"It's again, focusing on what we have to do: work hard. Especially now with the limited amount of games left in the regular season. We're making a push here," said Sabres winger Patrick Kaleta. "Everyone still believes and that's the way to play it. There's no give up and there's not a chance in hell we're going to quit."
The Lightning didn't show any quit on Saturday despite being nine points out of a playoff spot with seven to play. They trailed 4-0 and 5-1 in their meeting with the Washington Capitals, but rallied to force overtime before suffering a 6-5 loss.
Martin St. Louis and Richard Panik both scored their second goals of the game during a three-goal third period, while Teddy Purcell scored the tying goal with 2:35 on the clock.
However, Vincent Lecavalier took a slashing call in overtime, which set up Mike Green's power-play goal for the Caps that handed the Lightning their second straight defeat and a 2-3-2 mark over their last seven.
"You take it as a loss. Ultimately, we ended up losing the game but you can sit here and say a lot of good came out of that loss," said Tampa Bay head coach Jon Cooper. "We scratched and clawed back to get a point, ultimately we didn't finish them off. It's tough when you take the penalty and half the overtime is going to be a 4-on-3."
Ben Bishop was pulled after one period for giving up three goals on 20 shots while Mathieu Garon made 15-of-18 stops the rest of the way. Tom Pyatt had three assists in the opener of a four-game road trip.
The Lightning and Sabres have split their previous two meetings this season, both in Tampa. The Bolts have won two straight and three of their previous four in Buffalo.