1970/71: After years of minor league hockey Buffalo finally lands a NHL team as the Sabres are one of two expansion teams added in the second wave of expansion bring the league to 14 teams. With legendary from Toronto Maple Leafs Coach Punch Imlach running the team the Sabres won a special wheel spin for the right to the number one overall pick which they used on the top Junior player Gilbert Perreault. On October 10th Perreault would score a goal in the Sabres very first game a 2-1 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins on the road. Eight days later the Sabres would face the Penguins again skating to a 1-1 tie in the first game ever at the Aud. Gilbert Perreault would go on to lead the Sabres in scoring with 38 goals and 34 assists while winning the Calder Trophy. However, the Sabres would finish in fifth place in the Eastern Division with a typical expansion like 24-39-15 record.
1971/72: The Sabres would draft wisely again selecting Rick Martin who meshed well with Gilbert Perreault as the two led the Sabres in scoring with 74 points. Martin and Perreault would be joined at the end of the season by Rene Robert acquired from the Pittsburgh Penguins in a trade for Eddie Shack. The trio would form one of the prolific scoring lines of the era known as the French Connection. However, the Sabres would still struggle to win games finishing in sixth place with a 16-43-19 record, as a heart attack forced Coach Punch Imlach to the sidelines.
1972/73: Even though he was no longer able to Coach the Sabres Punch Imlach remained the club’s General Manager again striking gold in the draft with the selection of hard-nosed defenseman Jim Schonfeld. In addition to Schonfeld the Sabres would acquire veteran blue liner Tim Horton to help lead the young team. The added strength on defense combined with the scoring touch of the French Connection would be the right combination for the Sabres who made the playoffs for the first time in franchise history with a solid 37-27-14 record. However the Sabres would be overmatched by the veteran Montreal Canadiens in the playoffs as they found themselves down 3-0. However, the young Sabres would not go down without a fight taking the next two games before falling 4-2 in Game 6.
1973/74: Coming off their first playoff appearance the Sabres came out of the gate flying winning six of their first nine games. However, Gilbert Perreault would suffer a broken leg missing eight weeks; shortly thereafter they would lose Goalie Roger Crozier for the rest of the season after he developed pancreatitis. Without two key players the Sabres would struggle, but none of that would prepare them for what happened on February 20th after a game in Toronto against the Maple Leafs when Tim Horton decided to drive home on his own. Horton, the 44-year old veteran defenseman apparently had his senses dulled, after consuming alcohol and painkillers as he crashed his car into the center guardrail on the Queen Elizabeth Way and died. Injuries and tragedy would be too much for the Sabres to overcome as they missed the playoffs by finishing in fifth place with a record of 32-34-12.
1974/75: After a year of tragedy the Sabres would rebound as The French Connection led the way in an offensive explosion that would see the Sabres score 354 goals. Rene Robert, Gilbert Perreault, and Rick Martin each finished in the top ten in scoring, as the Sabres finished in first place in the newly established Adams Division with a record of 49-16-15. In the playoffs the Sabres would get off to a strong start beating the Chicago Blackhawks in five games to reach the Semifinals. In the semifinals against the Montreal Canadiens the Sabres would get off to a dramatic start as Danny Gare scored in overtime to give the Sabres a 6-5. The Sabres would go on to take a 2-0 series lead before losing the next two games in Montreal to set up a crucial fifth game at the Aud where Rene Robert scored in overtime to give the Sabres a 5-4 win. Not wanting to chance things the Sabres closed the series out in Montreal in Game 6 with a 4-3 win. In the Stanley Cup Finals against the defending Champion Philadelphia Flyers the Sabres would get off to a slow start losing the first two games on the road. Desperately needing to win Game 3 at the home the Sabres were hampered by 90-degree temperatures that created a fog in the Aud as the game went into overtime. However, Rene Robert would be the hero again netting the game winner to keep the Sabres hopes alive. The Sabres would go on to even the series in Game 4 with a 4-2 win. However, Flyers Goalie Bernie Parent would prove too strong as the Flyers went on to win the Cup in six games.
1975/76: Coming off their run to the Stanley Cup Finals the Sabres were again one of the top teams in the NHL finishing in second place with a solid record of 46-21-13. The French Connection again led the way all finishing with at least 86 points including Gilbert Perreault who finished third in the league with 113 points. However, the highlight of the season according to General Manager Punch Imlach occurred in January 4th exhibition game against the Soviet Red Army team who had beaten all NHL teams up to that point on a barnstorming tour. Imlach worked hard to make sure the Sabres would not be added to the list of the conquered so he studied game tapes looking for an edge. He found one as the Sabres quickly jumped out to a lead on the way to a convincing 12-6 victory. In the playoffs it would not be as easy as they needed two overtime wins to get past the St. Louis Blues in a three game series. In the second round the Sabres would jump out to a 2-0 lead over the New York Islanders. However, the Islanders would rally to win the next four games advancing to the semifinals in six games.
1976/77: The Sabres would struggle out of the gate prompting General Manager Punch Imlach to threaten to trade all players if the team did not turn it around quickly. The move worked as the Sabres lost just four games in November and December, on the way to another solid second place finish with a 48-24-8 record. The Sabres would get off to a quick start in the playoffs as they beat the Minnesota North Stars in two straight games winning by a combine 11-3 score. However, in the second round they would be swept by the New York Islanders in four straight close games.
1977/78: After Gerry Desjardins was hit in the eye with a puck and developed a cataract the previous season, goaltender Don Edwards was recalled from Hershey. Desjardins would return in December but struggle badly leaving Edwards would have to carry the load for the rest of the season. Edward would do a solid job posting a 2.64 GAA as the Sabres topped 100 points for the fourth straight season finishing in second place with a solid record of 44-19-17. In the playoffs the Sabres would slip past the New York Rangers in a three game series, before losing to the Philadelphia Flyers in five games.
1978/79: The Sabres would again get off to a slow start. However, this time General Manager Punch Imlach would not be able to threaten to trade everyone away as he himself was fired on December 4th. In addition Coach Marcel Pronovost was shown the door. Under interim Coach Billy Inglis the Sabres respond by going unbeaten in their next seven games. The Sabres would go on to finish in second place again with a record of 36-28-16. However, the Sabres would make a quick exit out of the playoffs as they lost a three game series to the Pittsburgh Penguins in overtime.
1979/80: After their first round exit Owner George H. Knox III looked for a way to get the Sabres back on track. Knox would take advantage of a two week window to interview Scotty Bowman who had led the Montreal Canadiens to the last four Stanley Cup Championships, giving him deal to become the Sabres Coach and General Manager. However, the Bowman era would single an end to the French Connection as Rene Robert is traded to the Colorado Rockies for defenseman John Van Boxmeer. The move would work out as the Sabres won the Adams Division with a 47-17-16 record. In the playoffs the Sabres would get off to a fast start beating the Vancouver Canucks in four games. Moving on to the second round the Sabres continued to roll as the swept their way to the semifinals by beating the Chicago Blackhawks in four straight games. However, in the semifinals the Sabres would get off to rough start as they fell behind 3-0 to the New York Islanders. The Sabres would battle back to win the next two games. However, the hole was too deep as the Islanders advanced to the Stanley Cup Finals with a 5-2 win in Game 6.
1980/81: Scotty Bowman would step aside as coach to concentrate on his duties as General Manager. With Roger Nielsen who earned the nickname Captain Video for his constant study of game tapes the Sabres won their second straight division title with a solid record of 39-20-21, despite losing Gilbert Perreault for 22 games with rib injuries. Along the way Perreault would lose another French Connection line mate as Rick Martin is traded to the Los Angeles Kings for draft picks on March 11th. In the playoffs the Sabres would get off to a fast start sweeping the Vancouver Canucks in three straight. However, in the second round the Sabres would be stunned by the Minnesota North Stars in five games.
1981/82: Scotty Bowman returned to the bench after Roger Neilson left to Coach the Vancouver Canucks. With Bowman behind the bench the Sabres got off to a solid start as they entered December with a 12-5-7 record. However, the Sabres would make a stunning deal trading Jim Schoenfeld, Danny Gare, Derek Smith and Bob Sauve to the Detroit Red Wings for Mike Foligno, Dale McCourt, Brent Peterson and a first round draft choice. Shortly after the trade Bowman would relinquish the coaching duties to assistant Jim Roberts. However, Bowman would reassume the coaching duties in mid-March. Despite the turmoil the Sabres would still play solid hockey finishing in third place with a 39-26-15 record. However, in the playoffs the Sabres would make a quick exit as they are beaten by the Boston Bruins in four games.
1982/83: The Sabres began to make moves with an eye on the future by drafting Phil Housley, Paul Cyr, Dave Andreychuk with picks acquired in a variety of trades. The current Sabres were not to bad either as Gilbert Perreault shook was healthy for the first time in a few season with a team high 76 points, as the Sabres finished in third place with a 38-29-13 record. In the playoff Bob Suave who was reacquired from the Detroit Red Wings prior to the season would star shutting the Montreal Canadiens out twice as the Sabres swept the Habs in three straight games. In the Adams Division finals the Sabres would battle the Boston Bruins in a hard fought seven game series, which the Sabres lost in overtime on a goal by Brad Park.
1983/84: Rookie goalie Tom Barrasso selected with the fifth overall pick in the draft would have an auspicious debut winning both the Calder Trophy and Vezina with an outstanding 2.66 GAA, as the Sabres finished in second place with a solid 48-25-7 record. However, in the playoffs Barrasso would struggle as the Sabres were swept by the Quebec Nordiques in three straight games.
1984/85: Popular defenseman Jim Schonfeld would return as Scotty Bowman felt his presence would help the younger players like Phil Housley and Dave Adreychuk, both who had solid season finishing just behind Gilbert Perreault in team scoring, as the Sabres finished in third place with a record of 38-28-14. In the playoffs the Sabres were put on the brink right away as they dropped the first two games on the road against the Quebec Nordiques. However, the Sabres would rally taking the next two games at home and leading in Game 5 with nine minutes left to play 5-3. However, the Nords would rally scoring three goals to win the game 6-5.
1985/86: Gilbert Perreault would make history on March 7th as he scored his 500th career goal in front of a sold out crowd at the Aud against the New Jersey Devils. However, it would be the only highlight of the season as the Sabres played mediocre hockey all season missing the playoff for the first time in 12 years by finishing in last place with a 37-37-6.
1986/87: Gilbert Perreault got off to a solid start scoring nine goals in his first 14 games, however with the Sabres struggling Perreault would retire on November 24th. Meanwhile Scotty Bowman not wanting to coach anymore turned the reigns over again this time to Craig Ramsay. However, under Ramsay the Sabres held a 5-15-3 record on December 2nd, when Bowman was relieved of his duties as General Manager. New GM Gerry Meehan would bring in a new coach, Ted Sator 20 days later. However, it was too late to save the Sabres season, as they finished in last place again missing the playoffs for the second straight season with a horrible 28-44-8 record that was the worst in the NHL.
1987/88: After finishing with the worst record in the NHL the Sabres owned the top overall draft pick which they used on Pierre Turgeon. Turegon would have a solid rookie season finishing sixth place in the team in scoring with 42 points as the Sabres got back to the playoffs by finishing in third place with a record of 37-32-11. However, the return of the playoffs was thanks to the mergence of Dave Adreychuk, who scored a team high 78 points. However, in the playoffs the Sabres would be beaten by the Boston Bruins in six games.
1988/89: The Sabres, who traded Tom Barrasso early in the season, are forced to play musical goalie after Darren Puppa is breaks his arm on January 27th. This put the load on backup Jacques Cloutier struggled. In March the Sabres would acquire Clint Malarchuk from the Washington Capitals for Calle Johansson. However Malarchuk would suffer a horrific injury on the night of March 22nd as the Sabres faced the St. Louis Blues at the Aud. In the first period, Blues winger Steve Tuttle and Sabers defender Uwe Krupp crashed into Malarchuk. When the pile untangled, blood gushed from Malarchuk’s neck. The six-inch cut in Malarchuk’s neck had struck his jugular vein. Had Sabres trainers and doctors not acted quickly Clint Malarchuk would have died on the ice. However, the cut was sewn up that night and incredibly, he left the hospital the next afternoon. Despite the rotating goalies the Sabres would still make the playoffs by finishing in third place with a record of 38-38-7. However, in the playoffs it would be a quick exit as they are beaten by the Boston Bruins in 5 games.
1989/90: A gamble the Sabres took a few years earlier pays off as Alexander Mogilny defects from the Soviet Union, during the World Junior Championships, signing a deal to play for the Sabres who drafted him in 1988. Mogilny would have a solid rookie season with 43 points, as Pierre Turgeon had a break out season by topping the 100-point mark for the first time in his career. The young 1-2 scoring punch and the solid goaltending of Darren Puppa would be the catalyst as the Sabres challenged for the Adams Division and first place overall all season before falling three points short with a solid 45-27-8 record. However, in the playoffs the Sabres would falter as they are beaten by the Montreal Canadiens in six games.
1990/91: On draft day the Sabres would pull off a blockbuster trade acquiring Dale Hawerchuk from the Winnipeg Jets for Jeff Parker, Scott Amiel, and Phil Housley. The Sabres would get off to a shaky start, as they didn’t win any of their first seven games. However, Hawerchuk would have a solid first season in Buffalo leading the team with 89 points as the Sabres overcame their slow start by finishing in third place with a record of 31-30-19. However, it would be another first round exit as the Sabres are beaten by the Montreal Canadiens in five games.
1991/92: The Sabres would get off to a shaky start again as they sat at 2-5-1 on October 25th when they pulled the trigger on another blockbuster trade, sending Pierre Turgeon, Uwe Krupp, Benoit Hogue and Dave McLlwain to the New York Islanders for Pat LaFontaine, Randy Wood, and Randy Hillier. Things looked bleak when LaFontaine suffered a broken jaw on November 16th, most expected him to miss the rest of the season. However, LaFontaine was determined to return right away and on December 21st he returned to the lineup. LaFontaine would end up with 93 points in just 57 games as the Sabers finished in third place with a 31-37-12 record. In the playoffs the Sabres would be bounced out in the first round again. However, this time they would not go down without a fight as they pushed the Boston Bruins to seven games.
1992/93: The scoring tandem of Pat LaFontaine and Alexander Mogilny had Buffalo fans cheering all season as both topped the 100-point mark in scoring. Mogilny tied for the league in scoring with 76 points while LaFontaine notch 53 goals and an incredible 95 assists. However, the Sabres would allow 297 goals as they finished in fourth place with a mediocre 38-36-10 record. In the playoffs the Sabres would end a decade long playoff slump by sweeping the first place Boston Bruins in four straight games, which included three wins in overtime topped by Brad May’s dramatic goal in Game 4 at the Aud. However, in the Adams Division finals the Sabres would have the tables turned on them as they are swept by the Montreal Canadiens in four straight games, three of which were in overtime.
1993/94: On November 19th the Sabres season appeared in jeopardy as Pat LaFontaine underwent season ending knee surgery. Coach John Muckler decided to switchgears, and play a tight defensive game instead of a wide-open attack based on speedy forwards. Things appeared to get bleaker as Goalie Grant Fuhr underwent knee surgery that would cause his to miss at least 6 weeks. Instead of folding the Sabres only got stronger as back up Dominik Hasek established himself as a star with outstanding performances night after night on the way to capturing Vezina with an outstanding GAA of 1.95. In the playoffs the Sabres would battle the New Jersey Devils in a tight low scoring series. Needing to win Game 6 at him to force a seventh game Dominik Hasek was simply dominating stopping everything the Devils threw at him stopping all 70 shots. However the Sabres could not get anything past Devils goalie Martin Brodeur either and the two teams battled deep into overtime, before Dave Hannan scored the game’s only goal at 65:43 of overtime to force a seventh game. However in Game 7 in New Jersey The Sabres would fall 2-1.
1994/95: After a four month lockout wiped out half the season the continued solid play of Dominik Hasek allowed the Sabres to trade Grant Fuhr to the Los Angeles Kings along with Philippe Boucher and Denis Tsygurow for Charlie Huddy, Robb Stauber and Alexei Zhitnik. Hasek would again capture the Vezina Trophy as the Sabres finished in with a 22-19-7 record as injuries limited Pat LaFontaine to just 22 games. However, in the playoffs the Sabres would make another first round exit as they are beaten by the Philadelphia Flyers in five games.
1995/96: In a continued change of direction the Sabres would trade Alexander Mogilny to the Vancouver Canucks for Michael Peca, and Mike Wilson. In the final season of hockey at the Memorial Auditorium the Sabres would struggle, as the clearly missed the scoring touch of Mogilny, while missing the playoffs and finishing in fifth place in the Northeast Division with a disappointing record of 33-42-7.
1996/97: A new era dawned in Buffalo as the Sabres prepared to open the brand new state of the art Marine Midland Area, with a new Red and Black color scheme that replaced the traditional Blue and Yellow scheme that had been worn since the Sabres inception. However, sadly Seymour H. Knox III who had been their every step of the way was not around to see the team he founded open its new arena he fought hard to get built, passed away in the spring. Not much was expected for the Sabres especially after Pat LaFontaine was lost to a severe concussion early in the season. However, goalie Dominik Hasek would bounce back of a mediocre season to dominate the NHL becoming the first goalie in 35 years to win both the Vezina and Hart Trophies as the Sabres won the Northeast Division with a 40-30-12 record. However, Hasek would struggle in the playoffs bring controversy in when he got into a scuffle with reporter Jim Kelly. With Hasek suffering a hurt groin serving a suspension, backup Steve Shields played solid hockey as the Sabres beat the Ottawa Senators in seven games. Shields would remain in net in the second round as the Sabres were beaten by the Philadelphia Flyers in five games. Following the season Coach Ted Nolan would be fired despite earning the Jack Adams Award for Coach of the Year.
1997/98: Under new Coach Lindy Ruff continued to rely solely on goalie Dominik Hasek who again won both the Vezina and Hart Trophies as eth Sabres finished in third place with a record of 36-29-17. However, it would be during the Winter Olympic break that Hasek shined the most, as he was unbeatable leading the Czech Republic to a gold medal as NHL players were used during the Hockey Competition in Nagano. In the playoffs Hasek would shake off past struggles as the Sabres finally beat the Philadelphia Flyers in five games. The Sabres continued to roll sweeping the Montreal Canadiens in four straight to reach the Eastern Conference Finals. However in the Conference Finals the Sabres would be burnt in overtime three times as they were beaten by the Washington Capitals in six games. Following the season the Sabres would be sold to John, Tim, Michael, and James Rigas of Adelphia Cable Communications.
1998/99: The Sabres continue to win with defense and the solid goaltending of the Dominik Hasek who was dominate again winning his third straight Vezina and fifth in six years with an outstanding 1.87 GAA, as the Sabres finished in fourth place with a record of 37-28-17. Entering the playoffs as the seventh seed the Sabres would get off to a fast start in the playoffs sweeping the Northeast Champion Ottawa Senators in four straight games. In the second round the Sabres continued to roll as they beat the Boston Bruins in six games to reach their second straight conference finals. Facing the Toronto Maple Leafs in the Eastern Finals the Sabres would split the first two games on the road before winning two straight games at the Marine Midland Arena to establish a 3-1 series lead. The Sabres would go on to close the series out in five games with a 4-2 win in Toronto. Facing the Dallas Stars in the Stanley Cup Finals the Sabres took Game 1 on the road in overtime 3-2 on a goal by Jason Wooley. After the Stars bounced back to win Game 2 the Sabres blew an opportunity to take control of the series by losing Game 3 at home 2-1. The Sabres would even the series with a 2-1-win over their in Game 4. However, after losing Game 5 in Dallas 2-0 the Sabres need to win Game 6 at home to force a seventh game. The game would go down to battle of goalies, as the game remained tied 1-1 through two overtime periods. Finally the Dallas Stars won the cup when Brett Hull slid the puck past Dominik Hasek in the third overtime. Replays would later show that Hull’s skate was in the crease, which was against the rules at that time. However, officials let the goal stand, adding a tinge of controversy to the Sabres heartbreak.
1999/00: Injuries would limit Dominik Hasek to just 35 games. However rookie Martin Biron would pick up the slack posting a solid 2.42 GAA average as the Sabres finished in third place with a 35-36-11-4 record holding off the Carolina Hurricanes for the final playoff spot by one point. However, in the playoffs the Sabres would make a quick exit as they are beaten by the Philadelphia Flyers in five games.
2000/01: After a seasons filled with injuries Dominik Hasek would return winning the Vezina Trophy for the sixth time in eight years with an outstanding 2.11 GAA as the Sabres playing without Captain Michael Peca who was holding out the entire season finished in second place with a solid 46-30-5-1 record. In the playoffs the Sabres would get off to a terrific start jumping out to a 3-1 series lead before beating the Philadelphia Flyers in six games. In the second round the Sabres got off to a shaky start as they dropped the first two games at home to the Pittsburgh Penguins. However, the Sabres would recover winning the next two games in Pittsburgh to even the series. After taking Game 5 at home the Sabres looked poised to reach the Eastern Conference Finals for the third time in four years. However, the Penguins would win the next two games in overtime eliminating the Sabres in seven games.
2001/02: Prior to the start of the season the Sabres decide to turn the page trading away both Dominik Hasek and Michael Peca. Replacing Hasek would be Martin Biron would play solid hockey. However, the Sabres played only mediocre hockey all season missing the playoffs for the first time in six years while finishing in last place with a record of 35-35-11-1.
2002/03: The Sabres began the season with a dark cloud surrounding the future of the franchise as the NHL was forced to assume control of the team after owners John, Tim, Michael, and James Rigas of Adelphia Cable Communications were forced to declare bankruptcy. John Rigas along with his sons Tim and Michael would be among the first arrested and charged with cooperate fraud and embezzlement under a crackdown after the Enron scandal. As new owners were sought the Sabres naturally struggled sitting in last place almost from the start of the season until the end posting a horrible record of 27-37-10-8. As the season wound down Tom Gollisano a New York billionaire who was just coming off an unsuccessful run for Governor purchased the team for $92 Million, ending rumors the Sabres would move or fold.
2003/04: After playing an entire season under the clouds of bankruptcy the Sabres began to emerge by acquiring Chris Drury from the Calgary Flames. Drury would be one of five Sabres to post over 50 points as the team started down the road to recovery. However the road from financial ruin to becoming a competitive team again was not a short one as the Sabres struggled much of the first half of the season falling as low as 18-25-5-1 on January 25th. However as the season wore on the Sabres would play better as the Sabres would win nine of their next 11 games. The Sabres would go on to have a strong second half posting a 37-34-7-4 record. However, they would fall six points shy of the playoffs, and would even end up in last place in the highly competitive Northeast Division.
2004/05: Season Cancelled Due to Lock Out
2005/06: During the Lock out the Sabres were one of the teams that were able to get back on track as they emerged from bankruptcy thanks in part to their new Billionaire Owner Tom Gollisano. When the Sabres hit the ice they were able to be competitive again getting off to a solid start with six wins in their first eight games. However, a bump in the road arrived at the start of November as they dropped four in a row while losing seven of nine and fell below .500. However, they would quickly recover and would play well most of the season, as Ryan Miller eventually established himself as the number one goalie with Maxim Afinogenov leading team with 73 points and Chris Drury leading the way with 30 goals. A 6-game losing streak in March would drop the Sabres out of first place, but thanks to a 52-24-6 record their 110 points were among the best in the Eastern Conference as they finished just three points back of the Ottawa Senators for the division title and the overall best record in the East, helping to earn a Jack Adams Award for longtime Coach Lindy Ruff. In the playoffs the Sabres got off to a fast start winning the first two games against the Philadelphia Flyers. However, after dropping the next two in Philly they were faced with a must win game in Game 5 at HSBC Arena. Thanks to Ryan Miller who stopped all 24 shots, the Sabres regained control of the series with a 3-0 win as they went to eliminate the Flyers in six games behind a 7-1 explosion in the finale in Philly. The second round would bring a showdown with the Senators as Game 1 turned into a shoot out for the ages with each team trading goals back and forth for 60 minutes. The final two minutes of regulation was pure excitement as the Sabres tied the game 5-5 on a shorthanded goal by Derek Roy, with 97 seconds left in the game. The Senators would quickly retake the lead 24 seconds later as Bryan Smolinski scored on the power play, but the Sabres would tie the game again on a goal by Tim Connolly with 11 seconds left in regulation. Overtime would be over just as quickly as Chris Drury delivered the 7-6 game winner after just 18 seconds of extra time. Game 2 would see fewer goals but the same result as the Sabres skated home to Buffalo for Game 3 with a 2-0 lead after a 2-1 win, as Ryan Miller stopped 43 of 44 shots. As the series shifted to HSBC Arena overtime rose up again as the Sabres took a commanding 3-0 lead as J.P. Dumont netted the game winner in a 3-2 game. After a disappointing 2-1 loss in Game 4, the Sabres went back to Ottawa and eliminated the Senators with another 3-2 win in overtime as Jason Pominville scored the game winner shorthanded 2:26 into OT. In the Eastern Conference Finals the Sabres were matched up against the Carolina Hurricanes, taking Game 1 again on the road 3-2. After losing Game 2 the series shifted to Buffalo, where the Sabres used a 3-goal outburst in the second period to win 4-3, and take back control of the series. After a disappointing 4-0 loss at home in Game 4, the Sabres found themselves on the brink thanks to a 4-3 overtime loss in Game 5. Back at HSBC Arena for Game 6 the Sabres turned the tables and won in overtime 2-1 on a power play goal by Daniel Briere. In Game 7 in Carolina the Sabres would take a 2-1 lead into the final period, but the home standing Hurricanes scored three times to win the game 4-2, and went on to finals, where they would win the Stanley Cup.
2006/07: Coming off their loss in the Eastern Conference Finals the Sabres entered the season in new uniforms that though utilizing the old bellow and yellow color scheme were not warmly received by fans who nicknamed their new logo the “Buffaslug.” However, when the Sabres started the season with ten straight wins, fans seemed to warm up to the new logo. After losing a shootout the Sabres remained hot winning five of their next six games as they got off to a 15-1-1 start. The Sabres would spend the entire season in first place as they posted their best season in franchise history winning the President’s Trophy for the best overall record in the regular season at 53-22-7. In the playoffs the Sabres got off to a fast start beating the New York Islanders, as Brian Campbell scored twice, as they went on to eliminate the Islanders in five games. In the second round it was another Empire State showdown as the Sabres faced the New York Rangers. This time it would not be as easy as the series was even after four games, with the Rangers taking both games at MSG, after losing the first two in Buffalo. Things looked bleak in Game 5 back in Buffalo as the Rangers broke open a scoreless game with 3:29 left. However, with 7.7 seconds left Chris Drury sent the game to overtime finally beating Henrik Lundqvist on the Sabres 37th shot. In Overtime it would be Maxim Afinogenov who would play the role of hero scoring a power play goal to give the Sabres a dramatic 2-1 win. The Sabres would use the momentum from Game 5 to win the series in six as they scored four times in the second period as they held on for a 5-4 win. In the Eastern Conference Finals the Sabres got off to a bad start as they dropped Game 1 at home 5-2 to the Ottawa Senators. Things would not get much better in Game 2 as they lost an overtime heartbreaker 4-3, as they traveled to Ottawa in a 2-0 hole. The hole would get deeper as they managed just 15 shots on goal losing 1-0 in Game 3. The Sabres would avoid the sweep with a 3-2 win in Game 4, but their would be no comeback as the Senators won the series with another 3-2 overtime win in Buffalo in Game 5. Following the season the Sabres losses got worse as Co-Captains Daniel Briere signed with the Philadelphia Flyers, and Chris Drury signed with the Rangers.
2007/08: Losing two key players the Sabres entered the season knowing it would be hard to equal their performance of the previous two seasons. Through the first two months the Sabres played mediocre hockey as they posted an 11-11-1 record. In December the Sabres made a little run as they posted a six game winning streak. However heading into the New Year the Sabres dropped three games in a row, as they prepared to face the Pittsburgh Penguins in a special New Year’s Day Game aired nationally on NBC. Billed “The Winter Classic” the game was played in Ralph Wilson Stadium home of the Buffalo Bills, and it was the first outdoor regular season game played in the United States. With snow lightly falling through out the game went to a shootout, where the Sabres lost again 2-1, with Sidney Crosby blasting the winner past Ryan Miller. The Sabres struggles would continue as they won just one of their next eight games. The Sabres would play better in February as they remained in playoff contention. However, a subpar March would leave the Sabres on the outside looking in as they finished the season with a record of 39-31-12.
2008/09: After missing the playoffs, the Sabres looked to rebound as they got off to a fast start winning their first four games, on the way to a 6-0-1 start. However, the strong beginning was a memory in November as the Sabres struggled, losing seven of eight games during a rough stretch. When the New Year began the Sabres were playing only mediocre hockey as they held a 17-15-6 record. However, a strong January gave them hope for reaching the playoffs. After a disappointing February the Sabres were active at the trade deadline signing Tim Connolly to an extension worth $4.2 million for two years. They also acquired Mikael Tellqvist from the Phoenix Coyotes for a fourth-round pick in the 2010 draft. Then Dominic Moore came from the Toronto Maple Leafs for a second-round pick in the 2009 draft. Finally, they received a second-round pick in the 2009 draft from the Edmonton Oilers in exchange for their shootout weapon Ales Kotalik. However, the deals were not able to work any magic as the Sabres lost six of seven games and slid out of the playoffs. The Sabres would win their final three games, but would fall two points short of the playoffs with a record of 41-32-9.
2009/10: After missing the playoffs two straight seasons, the Sabres came out of the gate flying, posting a record of 8-1-1 in their first ten games. Despite a four game losing streak in November the Sabres maintained their strong start into the New Year. The Sabres were able to demonstrate their ability to comeback as 2010 began, as they won consecutive games after trailing 3-0. Beating the Pittsburgh Penguins and Atlanta Thrashers 4-3. However, January was a tough month for the Sabres as they lost four straight games. The struggles continued into February as they lost six in a row, posting a 3-6-5 record during a 14 game stretch. The Sabres were able to get a win before the Olympic break, beating the San Jose Sharks 3-1. During the Olympics in Vancouver, Sabres Goalie Ryan Miller shined as he helped lead Team USA to Silver Medal, losing just the Gold Medal game to Canada 3-2 on a goal by Sidney Crosby in overtime. After the break the Sabres began to show the type of play that enabled them to take control of the Northeast Division as they won seven of eight games. They would go on to win the division with a 45-27-10 record. Earning individual honors was Ryan Miller who captured the Vezina, while Defenseman Tyler Myers took home the Calder Trophy as the league’s best rookie. In the playoffs the Sabres faced a divisional foe in the Boston Bruins. In the opener at HSBC Arena, Ryan Miller stopped 38 of 39 shots as the Sabres won 2-1. However, the Bruins bounced back to take the next two games as leading scorer Thomas Vanek was lost to an injury in Game 2. Needing a win in Boston for Game 4, the Sabres held an early 2-0 lead. However, the Bruins battled back to win in double overtime 3-2, as former Sabre Miroslav Satan netted the game winner to give the Bruins a 3-1 series lead. The Sabres would stay alive with a 4-1 win in Game 5. Vanek would return for Game 6, and would score a goal but it would not be enough as the Bruins eliminated the Sabres with a 4-3 win.
2010/11: It was something old, something new, and something blue as the season began for the Sabres, who returned to the classic logo and blue sweaters as they got new ownership. Early on the Sabres would struggle, as they started 3-9-2. However, in November they began to turn things around, winning four of their next five games. In December, Terrence Pegula one of the richest men in the world expressed interest in buying the Sabres, as they continued their climb out of the early season hole. While the club sale was finalized, the Sabres ran off an 8-3-1 record in January. In February they would say good bye to Captain Craig Rivet, who was waived and later claimed by the Columbus Blue Jackets. In February, Pegula would take over ownership, buying the Sabres for a reported $189 million. He would be introduced to fans in Buffalo on February 23rd, pledging to keep the Sabres in Buffalo, and bring them a Stanley Cup, among those on hand where Sabres legends, including Rick Martin. It would be the final appearance for Martin who was a member of the famous French Connection line with Gilbert Perreault and Rene Robert, as he passed away from heart disease just three weeks later. The Sabres would acquire Brad Boyes for a draft pick from the St. Louis Blues at the trade deadline, as they finished the season strong, posting a record of 13-3-3 down the stretch to reach the playoffs with a record of 43-29-10. In the playoffs against the Philadelphia Flyers, the Sabres would get off to a great start, as Ryan Miller stopped all 35 shots, as the Sabres beat the Flyers 1-0 on a goal by Patrick Kaleta in the third period. Game 2 would be a completely different affair, as the Flyers evened the series with a 5-4 win. After losing 4-2 in Game 3, at home, the Sabres got another 1-0 win in Game 4, as Miller stopped 32 shots, with Jason Pominville scoring the game’s lone goal in the first period. In Game 5 in Philadelphia, despite blowing a 3-0 lead, the Sabres would win 4-3 in overtime on a goal by Tyler Ennis. The Sabres would take an early 3-1 lead in Game 6, with a chance to win the series at home, however the Flyers would rally as the game went to overtime. In OT, the Flyers would win the game 5-4 on a goal by Ville Leino. The Flyers would go on to win the series with a 5-2 win in Game 7.
2011/12: Before the season started, the Sabres would name Jason Pominville as their new Captain. The Sabres would begin the season in Europe with two wins, as they beat the Anaheim Ducks in Helsinki, Finland 4-1 and the Los Angeles Kings 4-2 in Berlin, Germany. Returning home, the Sabres would drop their home opener to the Carolina Hurricanes 4-3, before winning their next three games on the road. The Sabres got off to a solid start and held a record of 10-5-0 as they faced the Boston Bruins on November 12th. The Sabres would lose the game 6-2, but even worse they lost Goalie Ryan Miller to a concussion when he was kneed in the head by Milan Lucic trying to cover the puck. Miller would miss the next nine games, as the Sabres went through a series of injuries, losing 225 man games to various injuries. Over the next 33 games the Sabres won just nine games and found themselves falling far behind in the playoff chase. Just before the All-Star Break, the Sabres began to turn things around as they scored a 2-1 shootout win over the New Jersey Devils on the road. The game singled a return to health for Ryan Miller who still had lingering concussion symptoms. The Sabres would start climbing the standings in February, as they posted a record of 7-3-3. As February became March the Sabres had one of the best stretches in franchise history as they would post a record of 14-1-3 as they got back into playoff position. However, back to back losses to the Pittsburgh Penguins and Toronto Maple Leafs at the end of March would doom their playoff hopes. The Sabres would miss the playoffs by just three points, with a record of 39-32-11.
2012/13: After a strong finish that nearly propelled them into the playoffs, the Sabres hoped to carry the momentum as they added Steve Ott in the off-season in a trade with the Dallas Stars for Derek Roy. However, any chance to get a boost was blunted as the NHL endured another long lockout that delayed the season three months. The truncated 48 game season would begin on January 20th with the Sabres upending the Philadelphia Flyers 5-2 at the First Niagara Center. The Sabres would split their first six games, but found themselves going in the wrong direction at the beginning of February as they lost five out of seven games to start the month. After a 4-2 win over the Boston Bruins, the Sabres troubles continued as they dropped their next two games to slip to 6-10-1. This would lead to the dismissal of longtime Coach Lind Ruff, who was fired after 16 seasons behind the Buffalo Sabres bench. Ruff would be replaced by Ron Rolston, who lost his first two games before the Sabres earned a 2-1 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning on the road. The Sabres would not play much better in March as they found themselves mired in last place, while posting a 5-5-5 mark that erased any hope for the playoffs. As the trade deadline approached the Sabres would begin breaking down the team to rebuild for the future, as Jordan Leopold was sent to the St. Louis Blues for a pair of draft picks, while they picked up two other picks from the Los Angeles Kings for Robyn Regehr. They would than send Captain Jason Pominville to the Minnesota Wild for Matt Hackett, Johan Larsson and two draft picks. Despite appearing to waive the white flag and focus on the future, the Sabres showed some pride in April and won eight games. However, the Sabres could not escape last place in the Northeast Division as they finished with a record of 21-21-6.
2013/14: Even before the season began it was clear the Buffalo Sabres were in for a long year, as they looked to make a commitment to rebuilding. With stars Thomas Vanek and Ryan Miller both playing in the last year of their contracts it was clear the Sabres would shuffling players in and out of Buffalo all season. Vanek would be the first to go, as he was traded to the New York Islanders on October 27th for Matt Moulson and a pair of draft picks. The Sabres would be as bad as expected, as they posted a 4-15-1 record in the first 20 games. The bad start would lead to the dismissal of both General Manager Darcy Regier and Coach Ron Rolston on November 13th. The Sabres would hire Hall of Famer Pat LaFontaine to be the team’s new President of Hockey Operations, while Ted Nolan took over as coach. The Sabres would later name Tim Murray as their General Manager. The Sabres would win their first game in Nolan’s return to the bench, beating the Toronto Maple Leafs 3-1. However, wins remained hard to come by as they held a record of 11-25-4 at the start of the New Year. The Sabres would win just four games in January, and lost four straight games before the Olympic Break. When the season resumed trades would be the story for the Sabres, as Ryan Miller was traded along with Captain Steve Ott to the St. Louis Blues for Jaroslav Halak, Chris Stewart, William Carrier and a pair of draft picks. Halak would be traded himself a week later to the Washington Capitals for Michal Neuvirth and Rostislav Klesla. The Sabres also made deals with the Los Angeles Kings and Minnesota Wild at the trade deadline sending Brayden McNabb and Jonathan Parker to LA for Nicolas Deslauriers, while they picked up Torrey Mitchell and two draft picks from the Wild for Cody McCormick and Matt Moulson. So shorthanded were the Sabres do to the trades they needed to dress Videographer Ryan Vinz as a backup goalie. The Sabres would win twice in their final 20 games, posting the second worst record in franchise history at 21-51-10, which would lead to the dismissal of Coach Ted Nolan.
2015/16: The Buffalo Sabres looked to make strides as they named Dan Bylsma who had won a Stanley Cup with the Pittsburgh Penguins to replace Ted Nolan behind the bench. One key piece to the Sabres future was Jack Eichel who was chosen with the second overall pick after winning the Hobey Baker Award, given to the top player in the NCAA at Boston University. Eichel had a fantastic season in his rookie year, posting 56 points as he led the Sabres with 24 goals. Another key piece for the Sabres is Ryan O’Reilly who was acquired with Jamie McGinn from the Colorado Avalanche for Nikita Zadorov, Mikhail Grigorenko, J. T. Compher and draft pick. In his first season in Buffalo, O’Reilly led the Sabres in scoring with 60 points. Despite two key players providing an instant boost, the Sabres still were a long way from making the playoffs as they finished seventh in the Atlantic Division with a record of 35-36-11.
2016/17: The Buffalo Sabres hoped to end a five-year playoff drought as the season began. Through the first three months, the Sabres continued to wallow in mediocrity as they held a record of 13-15-8 at the end of December. As the New Year began, the Sabres finally made some strides, winning seven games as they won four straight games at the KeyBank Center. The Sabres though could not keep up the momentum as they continued to skate near .500, which was not nearly good enough for the playoffs. The Sabres would finish the year with a record of 33-37-12, finishing last in the Atlantic Division. Jack Eichel was the Sabres leading scorer with 57 points and 24 goals.
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Page created on May 15, 2003. Last updated on March 28, 2018 at 10:40 pm ET.