NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Saturday, April 7th (All times Eastern)
Buffalo Sabres (39-32-10) at Boston Bruins (48-29-4), 4 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The Boston Bruins will have one more chance to sharpen their game before the start of their Stanley Cup title defense as they host the disappointed Buffalo Sabres this afternoon.
The Bruins are returning to the playoffs for the fifth straight season and are defending their first championship since 1972. Boston claimed the Cup last season by knocking off the Vancouver Canucks in seven games.
Already locked into the second seed in the East with a second straight Northeast Division title, the Bruins reached 100 points for the third time in the past four seasons with Thursday's 3-1 win over the Senators.
With little on the line, Boston did not even bring starting goaltender Tim Thomas, star defenseman Zdeno Chara or forward Patrice Bergeron to Ottawa for the game. Instead, backup goaltender Anton Khudobin made 44 saves to win his Bruins debut and will likely serve as Thomas' backup in the postseason due to Tuukka Rask's lower-body injury.
"I though he played phenomenal," Bruins forward Tyler Seguin said about Khudobin. "I thought he played a great full 60 minutes tonight."
Benoit Pouliot, Greg Zanon and Milan Lucic scored for Boston, which earned its third win in the last four games and sixth in the past eight.
Boston is dealing with some injuries as it heads into the postseason, with defensemen Adam McQuaid (head/eye) and Johnny Boychuk (left knee) day-to-day.
The Bruins have gone 3-1-1 versus the Sabres this season, winning both meetings in Boston by a 9-3 margin.
The Sabres end their season in Boston after officially being eliminated from the postseason on Thursday. Buffalo was undone by its 2-1 setback to Philadelphia as well as Washington's win over Florida that night.
Looking to dig themselves out of a hole, the Sabres had gone 8-2-2 in their past 12 and 20-7-5 in the last 32 before giving up a pair of goals in the third period of the loss to the Flyers. Ryan Miller made 33 saves, but couldn't stop Matt Read's winner on a breakaway with 4:21 left in the game.
"It's just disappointing because it's embarrassing to miss the playoffs. We have a lot of talented players and we just couldn't get it going early enough. You run out of time, you run out of games," said Miller. "It comes down to basically going on a bigger tear than any other team in the league has gone on the entire year, just to make the playoffs and that's not how you do it in this league."
Signed to a six-year, $27 million deal this offseason, Ville Leino scored just his eighth goal of the season in the loss for the Sabres.
Buffalo was limited on its blue line. Already without Tyler Myers and Christian Ehrhoff due to injury, Alexander Sulzer did not play versus Philadelphia due to a personal matter that caused him to fly home to Nashville.
04/07 10:33:01 ET