John Tortorella said after the Rangers' 1-0 loss to the Sabres Wednesday night, in a battle of Eastern Conference bubble teams, that "you can't play Game 77 like it's Game 25."

Because the Rangers did, their mentality must move ever closer to a Game 7.

Jhonas Enroth made 23 saves for his first career shutout, and Tim Connolly's power-play goal in the second period was enough to spoil Henrik Lundqvist's 34-stop effort and lift the Sabres (39-29-9) into a tie for seventh place with five games left in the regular season. The ninth-place Hurricanes (37-30-10) moved within three points of the final playoff position with their 6-2 rout of the Canadiens (41-30-7), although the upside of that for the Rangers (41-31-5) is that sixth-place Montreal also is squarely in the race, with only a two-point margin on the Blueshirts and Buffalo, and one fewer game remaining.

The Rangers technically stand in eighth place because Buffalo has 34 non-shootout wins to their 33. The Rangers are tied for fourth in the NHL with eight shootout wins, and though they are glad to have the extra points gained from the skills competition, they do not have good standing when it comes to tiebreakers with any of their playoff rivals.

"We knew it was gonna be a dogfight getting into the playoffs, and teams are winning right now," said Brandon Dubinsky, who leads the Rangers with 51 points but went without a point for the third straight game. "We've got to keep pace, and that means we've got to put this one behind us and have a great start (Wednesday night) out on the Island, and play a great game."