There have been some forgettable seasons in Buffalo's history. Though this hasn't been one of them, the Sabres are in danger of setting a dubious record.
Following a much-needed win, the Sabres look to avoid losing nine straight road games for the first time in their 39-year history as they face the New York Rangers on Sunday night.
A few poor seasons aside, Buffalo (34-20-9) has been a relatively successful franchise since its inception in 1970, with 27 postseason appearances and an Eastern Conference championship in 1999. The Sabres have barely missed out on playoff berths each of the past two seasons, but are now in strong position to end that drought, tied with Ottawa atop the Northeast Division.
Still, the past month has been a struggle for the Sabres. They had lost eight of nine overall before beating Philadelphia 3-2 in overtime Friday night.
"If we keep playing like that, we're going to have some leads and we're going to be back to the way we need to be playing," Buffalo goaltender Ryan Miller said.
Prior to returning home for a matchup with Dallas on Wednesday night, Buffalo is faced with a matchup that could change its record book. The Sabres are in danger of losing nine in a row on the road for the first time.
Buffalo's skid (0-6-2) away from home matches its longest such losing streak, set during the 2007-08 season (0-5-3).
The Sabres won their only previous road game against the Rangers (29-28-8) this season, 3-2 on Dec. 12.
Buffalo has been struggling offensively, and will now likely have to contend with New York goalie Henrik Lundqvist and his 2.43 goals-against average. The Sabres scored two goals or fewer in nine of 13 games prior to their matchup with the Flyers.
Tim Connolly, who leads Buffalo with 57 points (15 goals, 42 assists), has been held off the scoresheet in eight straight visits to Madison Square Garden. He made up for a third-period gaffe versus Philadelphia on Friday, scoring the game-winner 2:31 into the extra session.
With just under 9 minutes to go in the third, Connolly's errant pass was picked off by the Flyers' Mike Richards, who lifted a backhander past Miller. Sabres veteran Adam Mair tied the game less than three minutes later.
"It's rebounding from your mistakes, and Tim makes very few of them on the ice," said Mair, who also added an assist on Thomas Vanek's second-period goal. "He was able to win the game for us, and that just speaks to his mental ability to put things behind him and look forward."
The Rangers will be trying to bounce back from their own setback, a 2-0 loss at league-leading Washington on Saturday night. New York, on the fringe of a tight race for one of the Eastern Conference's last three playoff spots, had earned points in its previous four games (3-0-1).
The Rangers were shut out for the sixth time this season even though leading scorer Marian Gaborik returned from a strained groin. He mustered three shots in more than 20 minutes of ice time.
"Obviously, he needs to play better," coach John Tortorella said of Gaborik, who has 69 points (35 goals, 34 assists).