The sign of things to come

On Sunday night against Calgary, the Sabres demonstrated what they can be.
Mar 24, 2024; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Buffalo Sabres right wing JJ Peterka (77) celebrates his goal
Mar 24, 2024; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Buffalo Sabres right wing JJ Peterka (77) celebrates his goal / Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

The Buffalo Sabres did close the gap in the wild-card race on Sunday night. It may be a long shot for the organization to close it entirely during the home stretch of the season, but Sunday night represented what the team needs to do next season to break through.

Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen had 32 saves, Tage Thompson scored one goal and an assist as the Sabres beat the Calgary Flames 4-1. During the first period, they kept the pressure high and Peyton Krebs scored on a wrist shot to go up 1-0. Tage continued his late-season surge as he has a five-point game streak. Joining Thompson in a five-game point streak is Alex Tuch who added an assist on Sunday night.

Thompson, Krebs and Tuch need to be key parts of Buffalo’s lineup next year. All three players accounted for more than 70 points a season ago. Peyton hasn’t lived up to expectations but a strong end of the year could lead to signs of things to come entering the offseason.

In addition to UPL's stellar performance, Buffalo had seven takeaways and 15 hits on the night. Strong defense and goaltending were lacking a year ago. However, they have greatly improved this season. Luukkonen has 17 wins since January 1st which is the most behind Alexandar Georgiev of the Colorado Avalanche and Andrei Vasilevskiy of the Tampa Bay Lightning, who both have 18 during that span.

It was an okay road trip for the Sabres as they went 3-2 during the five-game stretch. Thompson commented after the game that it was important for them to win the final game and gain momentum before heading home to face Ottawa on Wednesday. This game is an example of what they can not only accomplish for the remainder of this season but also into the start of next season.