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Sabres trying to hang on to playoff hopes against Bruins

Mar 17, 2023; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Buffalo Sabres center Dylan Cozens (24) in action against the Philadelphia Flyers in the third period at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Ross-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Kyle Ross-USA TODAY Sports

The Buffalo Sabres are hoping to improve their slim playoff chances when they skate against the visiting Boston Bruins on Sunday.

With 14 games remaining in their regular season, the Sabres (33-29-6, 72 points) will need a strong finish to qualify for the playoffs for the first time since 2011.

The Sabres didn’t help themselves when they dropped a 5-2 decision to Philadelphia on Friday night. It was Buffalo’s eighth loss in its last 11 games.

“We gotta get hot,” Buffalo captain Kyle Okposo said. “We gotta get really hot. We gotta go on a run without compromising our foundation and what we’re building and we’re not going to have guys go off on their own page. We need to stick together. We need to play together.”

Boston (52-11-5, 109 points) has the NHL’s best record and is coming off Saturday’s 5-2 victory against Minnesota. Sunday’s game will be the final stop for Boston on a five-game road trip. The Bruins are 2-2 through the first four games.

Minnesota entered Saturday’s game unbeaten (11-0-3) in its previous 14 contests.

“I liked the fact that we played a good 60 minutes,” Boston coach Jim Montgomery said. “We had a little bit of a hunter’s mentality trying to end their streak.”

Brad Marchand collected three assists against the Wild.

“It was a good test for us,” Marchand said. “They’ve been playing really well. We haven’t had many games lately where we’ve really played our way and played consistently through 60 minutes. Thought we did a good job of that. We didn’t have any letdowns throughout the game and when we had to come up big, we did.”

Bruins defenseman Derek Forbort didn’t play against the Wild and isn’t expected to suit up against the Sabres, either. Forbort left Boston’s 3-0 victory over Winnipeg on Thursday after blocking a shot midway through the second period and did not return.

Buffalo fans may soon get a glimpse of the team’s future since the organization signed 21-year-old goaltender Devon Levi to a three-year contract on Friday. Levi recently completed his junior season at Northeastern University and led Hockey East with 14 victories, six shutouts, a 1.81 goals-against average and a .947 save percentage.

Florida selected Levi in the 2020 NHL Draft, but the Sabres acquired him in a trade that sent forward Sam Reinhart to the Panthers in 2021. Levi is expected to make his NHL debut this season.

“We just thought for his development, where we are right now, this was a critical time for him to learn and grow with us,” Buffalo general manager Kevyn Adams said. “And that he’s coming right in.

“We first (have) to get him up to speed and get him around the guys, get him comfortable. You want to set players up for success. You want to put them in a situation that you believe they can thrive. We’re open to it and we’ll go day by day, and once we feel that he’s comfortable and where he needs to be, then we’ll see where we’re at.”

Boston won two of the previous three meetings against the Sabres this season, and outscored Buffalo 13-6 in those three games. The Sabres are scoreless in nine power-play opportunities against the Bruins this season.

–Field Level Media

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