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by Rob Crean / Buffalo Sabres

The Sabres continue to hold the eighth and final playoff spot entering the weekend with a three-point cushion on ninth-place Carolina.  The Hurricanes, however, now have company as the Toronto Maple Leafs have tied them at 78 points, although Carolina has two games in hand on the Leafs.  The seventh-place Rangers, meanwhile, gained a point last night in a shootout loss to Ottawa.

Buffalo (8th place, 36-28-9 in 73 games, 81 points) has the chance to gain ground with back-to-back home games this weekend against Florida tonight and New Jersey tomorrow.

Here’s a look at what the Rangers, Hurricanes and Leafs will be up to this weekend:

NY Rangers (7th place, 40-35-5 record in 75 games, 85 points)
    Friday: Off
    Saturday: at Boston
    Sunday: Off

Carolina (9th place, 34-29-10 in 73 games, 78 points)
    Friday: at Tampa Bay
    Saturday: vs. Tampa Bay
    Sunday: Off

Toronto (10th place, 34-31-10 in 75 games, 78 points)
    Friday: Off
    Saturday: at Detroit
    Sunday: Off

For a look at the full NHL Standings entering Friday's action, click here.

Knowing which teams the Sabres must hold off in order to earn a playoff berth begs the question: Do the players keep an eye on the out of town scoreboard in the Arena?

“I try not to, but sometimes you do look around to see what’s going on,” said Jason Pominville.  “If you look at last game we played in Montreal, we had no idea what the other scores were, but after the game we kind of asked around and figured out that everybody else had won.  We can only control what we do, and that’s going out there and playing, and hopefully the rest will take care of itself.”

Ryan Miller was asked the same question following the team’s win over Montreal, and said he never gave it a thought.

“We don’t make a point of talking about it. It’s not something that really matters.  It can’t affect our game out there. If you let it creep in, it’s just another distraction.  You just keep it off to the side; there’s enough to worry about out there with your own game,” Miller said.

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