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This Day in Buffalo Sports History: No fooling

   Apr. 1, 1973 -- If this were "This Day in Buffalo Music History," the day's item would be concerned with Elvis Presley's concert in Memorial Auditorium in 1957 on this date. The excitement that came to the downtown facility was quite different 16 years later, but no less dramatic.

   The playoff race in the National Hockey League's Eastern Conference went right down to the final night in the 1972-73 season. The Sabres were two points ahead of the Detroit Red Wings with a game to go. Buffalo didn't have the edge in a tiebreaker, so it needed to finish ahead to grab the fourth and final playoff spot.

   It was a pretty nervous time, especially for a Buffalo team that had never reached the postseason before. Just to add to the drama, the Sabres moved their starting time back an hour. That way, the Red Wings wouldn't have a psychological edge if the Sabres were losing.

   Buffalo played like a team that deserved a playoff spot that night. It defeated St. Louis, 3-1, to finish with 88 points. By the way, Detroit tied its game with the Rangers. The Sabres were off to the playoffs. Buffalo's three-game winning streak to close the season proved to be decisive, and it earned the Sabres a date to face the mighty Montreal Canadiens.

--- Budd Bailey

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