NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Wednesday, February 8th (All times Eastern)
Boston Bruins (33-16-2) at Buffalo Sabres (22-24-6), 7:30 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The surging Buffalo Sabres will try to open a four-game homestand on a positive note when they host the Boston Bruins this evening at First Niagara Center.
The Bruins, meanwhile, will try to record consecutive wins for the first time in nearly a month when they take the ice tonight in western New York.
Buffalo has posted a 3-0-1 record in its last four games after losing five straight and eight of nine prior to the recent hot streak. The Sabres still have plenty of work to do if they want to break into the Eastern Conference playoff picture, however, as Buffalo is currently 14th in the conference and 11 points out of a postseason berth.
The Sabres are 11-9-6 as the host this year and will also welcome Dallas, Tampa Bay and New Jersey during their homestand.
On the other hand, the Bruins are leading the Northeast Division with 68 points, although a 5-5-1 record in their last 11 games hasn't helped inspire confidence in the defending Stanley Cup champions. Boston is coming off a decisive victory Sunday in Washington and tonight the B's will try to record two wins a row for the first time since beating Winnipeg and Montreal on Jan. 10 and 12, respectively.
Boston is 2-0 against the Sabres this year and has scored 10 times over those meetings. The clubs haven't faced each other since Nov. 23, when Benoit Pouliot notched the winning goal in a 4-3 shootout decision for the Bruins.
Buffalo had won four straight against Boston heading into this year's season series and the Bruins have lost seven times in their last 11 trips to First Niagara Center.
The Sabres have gone the distance in their last two trips to the ice, losing a 1-0 shootout to the New York Rangers last Wednesday before posting a 4-3 shootout win Saturday against the Islanders.
Brad Boyes netted the game-winning goal to lift Buffalo to the win Saturday at Nassau Coliseum. The Sabres were down 3-1 after one period, but Derek Roy cut the lead to one late in the second and Paul Gaustad notched the equalizer at 11:14 of the third stanza.
In the shootout, Boyes picked up the puck and moved in slowly on Isles netminder Al Montoya. Boyes waited for Montoya to make a move and fired a quick wrist shot past the glove side. Jason Pominville sealed the victory with a goal in the second round of the shootout, while Ryan Miller stopped attempts from P.A. Parenteau and Frans Nielsen.
Boyes added an assist, while Nathan Gerbe also scored in regulation for the Sabres. Miller, a former Vezina Trophy winner, made 35 saves to improve his record this season to 14-15-3.
"Our defense was in really good position tonight," Miller said. "We made it hard for them to get the looks they wanted. "We blocked a few shots and I was able to get an eye on a few of them."
Buffalo has played the last two games without leading goal scorer Thomas Vanek (upper body) and he is expected to be out until at least this weekend, when the Sabres host Dallas on Friday and Tampa Bay on Saturday. Vanek is leading the Sabres with 19 goals and is second on the team with 41 points.
In injury news not involving players, Sabres head coach Lindy Ruff broke three ribs after colliding with defenseman Jordan Leopold at practice on Monday. Ruff, the longest-tenured coach in the NHL, was unable to return for Tuesday's practice and he will not coach tonight, leaving the bench duties for assistant coach James Patrick. Ruff hasn't missed a game since March 20, 2006, when he skipped a game in Atlanta to deal with a family matter.
The Bruins scored twice in the opening period against Washington on Sunday and eventually built a 3-0 lead before completing the 4-1 decision. Tim Thomas stopped 35-of-36 shots by the Capitals to help lead Boston to the win.
Brad Marchand and Rich Peverley each had a goal and an assist while Milan Lucic and Tyler Seguin also scored for the Bruins, who had lost three of four coming into Sunday's tilt. Patrice Bergeron had two assists in the contest.
"I think we had a lot better effort today than we have in the past couple of games," said Boston head coach Claude Julien. "We did some more things on offense and defense and had good goaltending. The guys competed hard for all 60 minutes."
Bruins forward Nathan Horton has missed the last five games with a concussion and he'll sit out a sixth straight test tonight. Horton, who has 17 goals and 15 assists in 46 games this year, has resumed skating, but there is still no timetable for his return.
Boston is 16-7-0 as the road team this year and is completing a brief two-game swing tonight. The Bruins' next two tilts will be on home ice against Nashville and the Rangers.
02/08 15:01:51 ET