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Bet on Buffalo to stay in the NHL playoff race and push Washington back

Can Buffalo fight its way back into the playoff mix with a win on Wednesday night?

Rasmus Dahlin of the Buffalo Sabres skates against the New York Islanders at the UBS Arena on March 07, 2023 in Elmont, New York. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Rasmus Dahlin of the Buffalo Sabres skates against the New York Islanders at the UBS Arena on March 07, 2023 in Elmont, New York. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)Read more BRUCE BENNETT / Getty Images

The Buffalo Sabres kept their playoff hopes alive with a come-from-behind win over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Monday night. The win halted a four-game losing streak and a 1-5-1 stretch for the Sabres, who have put themselves behind the 8-ball in the Eastern Conference playoff race.

The Sabres take on one of the teams they’re fighting with, the Washington Capitals, on Wednesday night.

Sabres vs. Capitals Prediction: Sabres -104

Like the Sabres, the Capitals are now a significant long shot to make the postseason. Both teams are on 71 points and trail the Islanders by five points, but Buffalo has two games in hand on the Caps and three on the Isles.

If Buffalo is to earnestly fight its way back into the playoff mix, it will need to tighten things up in its own zone. The Sabres play an exciting brand of hockey — they rank third in the NHL in goals per game this season, but 27th in goals against average — but that back-and-forth style can get them in trouble as they’re a young team that is still prone to making mistakes.

Buffalo should fancy this matchup with the Capitals on Wednesday, though, as Washington has really struggled to keep things tidy since trading away several players around the deadline. The Caps rank 30th in expected goals allowed and 28th in high-danger scoring chances conceded over their last 10 games, which is not all that surprising considering the amount of players they moved out at the beginning of the month.

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The Sabres’ defensive numbers are not much better and the goaltending has been all over the place in Buffalo this season, but the difference between these clubs right now is that the Sabres still have some offensive flair, while the Caps are struggling to create scoring chances — and that was before they lost Alex Ovechkin, who missed Tuesday night’s game with a lower-body injury.

With both clubs struggling to find any defensive footing, this game sets up to be a back-and-forth tilt and that favors the Sabres, who have a deep, dynamic offense that should be able to outscore its defensive issues against the Capitals on Wednesday night.

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