Bryan Smolinski scored twice, Carey Price came within 8:30 of posting his second straight shutout, and the Montreal Canadiens beat Buffalo 3-1 on Thursday night, eliminating the Sabres from the playoff race. Chris Higgins also scored for Montreal, which is tied with Pittsburgh atop the Eastern Conference with 102 points. The Canadiens host Toronto on Saturday night. The Penguins finish the regular-season in Philadelphia.
The Sabres, who won the President's Trophy last year and went to the conference final each of the last two seasons, needed at least one point to keep their slim playoff hopes alive. Buffalo, which has 88 points, completes its schedule Saturday in Boston and is assured of finishing 10th overall in the East.