Almost mercifully, it's the final game of the season in KeyBank Center. The Sabres and Ottawa Senators meet at 7:30 (thanks for nothing, Canadian television) in a Fan Appreciation Night game that will probably be more remembered for the Dominik Hasek bobblehead giveaway than anything that happens on the ice.
Here are Five Things to Know about the home finale:
1. Bobblehead giveaway changes entry rules
Give yourself extra time to get in the building tonight. You have been warned. The doors facing Perry Street will be closed and you have to enter on the ends of the pavilion -- by Alumni Plaza and the Sabres Store -- to get your Hasek bobblehead.
Reminder: The front entrance doors along Perry Street will be closed tomorrow for those entering the game street-level.
Allow extra time to enter to claim your Dominik Hasek Bobblehead through the gates! pic.twitter.com/qzIqWKf20K
— Buffalo Sabres (@BuffaloSabres) April 3, 2018
2. Battle for 31
For you tankers out there, the Sabres clinch last place in the NHL's overall standing with a regulation loss tonight. They have 62 points and the Senators have 65, both with three games left to play. Montreal and Arizona (both at 69) are clear of the Sabres, so Buffalo is guaranteed to finish either 30th or 31st.
Both teams are gasping to the end, with Ottawa 1-8 in its last nine games and Buffalo 2-6 in the last eight. As for draft odds, however, remember that the Sabres have only an 18.5 percent chance of winning the lottery if they finish 31st. So don't get your Rasmus Dahlin jersey ordering hopes up just yet.
3. Home hurdles
The Sabres are 11-24-5 at home this season (11-24-4 at KeyBank Center, with one game at Citi Field). The Senators are 11-22-5 on the road. The Sabres need a win tonight to snap the tie with the 1971-72 team for the fewest home wins in club history. That group went 11-19-9.
"This season has been difficult with the position we're in but tonight is more about the fans and Fan Appreciation Night," coach Phil Housley said today. "What we can bring to them is energy, execution and to go out the right way. Obviously, our home record has been a sore spot this season so we can't control really what has happened in the past. We can look at it, learn from it and realize we've got to be better. Tonight is a good opportunity for us to end the right way."
4. Nylander watch
Alexander Nylander, the Sabres' No. 1 pick from the 2016 draft, is up tonight to make his season debut and probably to get a three-game look before returning to Rochester for the Calder Cup playoffs. Nylander skated this morning on a line with Casey Mittelstadt and Kyle Okposo and also got work on the second power-play unit. Nylander has seven goals and 26 points in 48 games for the Amerks.
"He's played really well the last 20 games. He's got eight points in his last eight games and that's one of the reasons why he's gotten rewarded to come up here," Housley said. "I just want to see what he's done in Rochester recently. I think he's gotten to the hard areas. He's going to the net much harder and using his skill."
Nylander at LW with Mittelstadt and Okposo. #Sabres other lines: ERod-Eichel-Pominville, Wilson-ROR-Reinhart, Nolan-Larsson-Baptiste. No Porter in line rushes.
— Mike Harrington (@ByMHarrington) April 4, 2018
5. Around the boards
Ottawa defenseman Erik Karlsson did not fly here with the team and may not play in its final three games on the road, amid massive speculation he will be traded at some point this summer. ... The Sabres said Zemgus Girgensons had facial surgery and will not play in the final three games. He finishes his season at 7-8-15 in 71 games. Goalies Robin Lehner and Linus Ullmark remain day to day and have not been ruled out of the final two games this weekend in Florida ... The Sabres are 8-0-3 in their last 11 games against Ottawa, including 2-0-1 this season. The Senators have not beaten Buffalo in regulation since their 3-1 win here on Oct. 8, 2015, the NHL debut for Jack Eichel. ... Ottawa is 17-26 in one-goal games while Buffalo is 11-22. In NHL parlance, the numbers are 17-15-11 for Ottawa and 11-10-12 for Buffalo.