What does the Boston loss mean tonight?
If the Sabres win out - each of their last 8 games - they are in the playoffs. Period.
Nobody behind them can catch them if they win out and they would leapfrog Boston for a playoff spot, regardless of what currently-eighth-place Philadelphia does.
Buffalo will have tallied 16 points for those 8 wins and would finish with 97 points and 43 wins.
Buffalo plays Boston twice, so those losses are included. Even if those Buffalo wins need overtime or shootout, and Boston wins its other 6 remaining games, Buffalo still gets in. Here's why.
Boston would finish with 97 points and 43 wins under the above-mentioned scenario (Buffalo winning out, including two overtime-wins against Boston, and Boston winning its other games). So the teams would tie.
But Buffalo gets the tiebreaker...Because....
The first tiebreaker is wins, that will be the same.
The next tiebreaker is head-to-head points. Here's the results between the teams:
4-3 Boston overtime
3-2 Boston overtime
And assuming for the final two games:
Each team would come out with 10 points against each other under the above scenario.
And the final tie breaker is the kicker. Straight from the NHL website: "The greater differential between goals for and against for the entire regular season."
Buffalo is plus-16 and Boston is minus-15 in this stat. Boston would NOT be able to catch Buffalo for this tiebreaker because even if it outscores its opponents by +30 in its final eight games (which is virtually impossible), Buffalo will have won each of its last games so it would add to that margin.