Devils all-but eliminated with loss to Sabres

Twelve points out. Seven games left.

At this point, it seems pretty safe to say that the New Jersey Devils are going to miss the playoffs for the first time since 1995-96.

The Devils fell to the Buffalo Sabres, 2-0, on Saturday night, falling to 1-4-1 in their last six games. They have not scored in their last 173 minutes, 55 seconds of play.

New Jersey (34-36-5) righted the ship after a 10-29-2 start, going 23-3-2 in their next 28 games to move within six points of the Sabres for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. But interim coach Jacques Lemaire always said the team was going to dip. And they finally dipped at the worst possible time -- granted, it was on a four-game roadtrip.

A horrid first-half meant the Devils put themselves in a position where they had to be perfect. For almost two months, they were close.

Still, the mountain was just too much to climb. Baring a miracle, of course.

New Jersey will host the New York Islanders on Wednesday night at the Prudential Center.