NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Saturday, April 12th (All times Eastern)
Buffalo Sabres (21-50-9) at Boston Bruins (53-18-9), 12:30 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Boston Bruins will try to clinch the Presidents' Trophy with a win when they host the lowly Buffalo Sabres in Saturday's matinee battle at TD Garden.
With 115 points through 80 games, the Bruins, who have already clinched the top seed in the Eastern Conference, are three ahead of Anaheim for the league's highest point total with two tilts left for both teams.
Boston's magic number to claim the Presidents' Trophy is two, meaning any amount of points gained by the Bruins or lost by the Ducks that adds up to two will give the top record to the B's. Anaheim plays tonight in Los Angeles before hosting Colorado in its regular-season finale on Sunday.
The Bruins boast a 30-7-3 record as the home club and are playing their final game of the regular season at TD Garden on Saturday. The Bruins will complete their schedule tomorrow in New Jersey.
The Bruins are trying to win the Presidents' Trophy for the first time since the 1989-90 season. However, they have just one win in their last five games (1-1-3) on the heels of a 15-0-1 stretch.
Boston dropped a 2-1 shootout decision Thursday in Winnipeg, as Evander Kane tied the game in with 1:57 left in regulation before Bryan Little won it in the decisive phase.
Jets goaltender Michael Hutchinson, who was drafted by the Bruins in 2008, made his second NHL start and stopped Brad Marchand with his blocker on Boston's final try of the shootout to get his first win.
Marchand scored Boston's goal midway through the first period when he collected a rebound to the right of Hutchinson after Reilly Smith flung the puck off the end boards from mid-ice and beat the netminder with a deke.
Chad Johnson had 36 saves for the Bruins, who have lost four straight on the road and are 23-11-6 as the guest this season.
"They really turned it up in the third period," said Johnson. "I think they wanted to go out on a good note in their last home game."
Tuukka Rask could get the start in net today. Boston's No. 1 netminder is 5-5-1 with a 2.56 goals against average and .920 save percentage in 13 career outings against the Sabres.
Buffalo will finish dead last in the NHL standings and the club enters Saturday having lost five straight in regulation. The Sabres only have two wins over their last 18 games, going 2-15-1 during that dreadful stretch.
The Sabres gave the playoff-bound New York Rangers a run on Thursday, but eventually fell 2-1 at Madison Square Garden. Rick Nash's goal with 1:42 left to play was the decisive tally and the win allowed the Rangers to clinch home- ice advantage for the first round of the postseason.
Drew Stafford accounted for Buffalo's lone goal, with Matt Hackett coming up with 28 saves in the loss.
"Those are the things that have happened to us for the vast majority of the year. It's inconsistent," said Sabres head coach Ted Nolan of his team's inability to hold on. "We play well and then we don't play very well. We make good plays and then we turn over the puck."
Buffalo has lost seven straight on the road and is playing its final game as the guest on Saturday before seeing its campaign come to a merciful end Sunday against the visiting New York Islanders. The Sabres are 8-29-3 as the guest this season and 13-21-6 as the home team.
The Sabres posted a 5-4 overtime win against a visiting Boston club on Feb. 26 and Buffalo is 2-2-0 versus the Bruins this season. Boston has won four of the last six encounters at TD Garden.
04/12 10:26:40 ET