20 games ago the Buffalo Sabres were the top team in the NHL.  Since then they've played themselves right out of a playoff spot.  In their last 11 games they've lost eight including Saturday night's 5-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning.

To be fair, the Sabres played about as well as any team can be expected to play against the best team in the league.  Twice, they held the lead.  But things began to unravel late in the third period.

With the Sabres on the power play Jack Eichel was called for a questionable elbowing penalty putting the teams at 4 skaters aside.  Just moments after Eichel went to the box Steven Stamkos scored to break a 3-3 tie and put the Lightning in the lead for good.

Shortly after the Lightning clinched it with a power play goal to send the Sabres to their second loss in as many nights.  And frustrating because the Sabres dominated the first period and played well thru two periods, but in the third the Lightning showed why they have such a huge lead over the rest of the league.

Sam Reinhart, Tage Thompson and Marco Scandella scored the Buffalo goals while Linus Ullmark took the loss in goal.

Montreal's victory over Colorado moved the Canadiens past the Sabres into a playoff spot leaving the Sabres on the outside looking in - for now.

The Sabres begin a 3-game western road trip Monday night in Edmonton.