Bruins Showing Signs of Emerging From Season-Long Funk as Sabres Come to Town

Bruins Showing Signs of Emerging From Season-Long Funk as Sabres Come to Town The Bruins will once again try to build off the momentum of another big win as they welcome the Northeast Division leading Buffalo Sabres to TD Garden.

The Bruins doused the Flames 5-0 on Saturday and now will have to deal with their division rivals, who clinched a playoff spot with a 7-1 rout over the Lightning on Saturday.

This is the first game of a back-to-back for the Bruins, as they head to New Jersey Tuesday to play another team that is headed for the postseason in the Devils.

This could also be a matchup of two of the best goalies in the NHL right now, should Tuukka Rask and Ryan Miller start. Both Miller and Rask have hovered atop the NHL in goals-against average and save percentage this season.

WHEN AND WHERE

March 29, 7 p.m. (Versus)
TD Garden, Boston, Mass.

RECORDS

Bruins (33-28-12, 80 points, fourth place in Northeast Division, eighth place in Eastern Conference)
Sabres (41-23-10, 93 points, first place in Northeast Division, third place in Eastern Conference)

HEAD TO HEAD

This is the penultimate game of the season between these Northeast Division rivals, with the Bruins 3-1-0 against the Sabres thus far. In their last meeting on Feb. 9, the Bruins won 3-2 in a shootout at Buffalo. The teams will close the season series at the TD Garden on April 8.

SKINNY

After going 0-for-22 on the power play and not scoring on the man advantage since the second period of the March 7 game in which Marc Savard suffered his concussion, the Bruins — ironically with Savard speaking before the game — exploded with three power-play goals (3-for-4) en route to a 5-0 over the Flames on Saturday.

"Our power play was really clicking," captain Zdeno Chara said. "We were able to make plays. We were not looking for fancy plays. We were just keeping it simple, and it scored huge goals for us."

PROJECTED LINEUPS

Bruins
Forwards

Marco Sturm–Patrice Bergeron–Mark Recchi
Blake Wheeler–David Krejci–Michael Ryder
Milan Lucic–Vladimir Sobotka–Miroslav Satan
Daniel Paille–Steve Begin–Shawn Thornton

Defensemen
Zdeno Chara–Dennis Seidenberg
Mark Stuart–Dennis Wideman
Matt Hunwick–Johnny Boychuk

Goaltenders
Tuukka Rask
Tim Thomas

Sabres
Forwards

Tim Kennedy–Derek Roy–Thomas Vanek
Tyler Ennis–Jochen Hecht–Jason Pominville
Drew Stafford–Paul Gaustad–Mike Grier
Adam Mair–Matt Ellis–Steve Montador

Defensemen
Tyler Myers–Henrik Tallinder
Craig Rivet–Andrej Sekera
Toni Lydman–Chris Butler

Goaltenders
Ryan Miller
Patrick Lalime

Note: Thomas Vanek was injured Saturday. On Sunday, the team recalled forwards Nathan Gerbe
and Mark
Mancari
from the Portland Pirates of the AHL.

GOALTENDER MATCHUP

Bruins
Tuukka Rask is 18-11-4 with a 2.11 GAA, a .927 save percentage and four shutouts. Rask had an off night last Thursday, allowing five goals on 18 shots.

Tim Thomas is 16-17-8 with a 2.50 GAA and a .916 save percentage. In his first start since March 15, Thomas made 31 saves in the 5-0 win over Calgary on Saturday and now has five shutouts. It was Thomas’ first win since March 6, when he made 37 saves in a 2-1 win over the Islanders.

Sabres
Ryan Miller is 37-16-8 with a 2.21 GAA and .929 save percentage. Miller has five shutouts. He made 27 saves in a 4-2 loss to Ottawa in his last start Friday. Miller is 7-2-1 since returning from his silver-medal run at the Olympics last month.

Patrick Lalime is 4-6-2 with a 2.86 GAA and .904 save percentage. The seldom-used backup made 22 saves in the Sabres’ 7-1 win over Tampa Bay Saturday. With the win, Lalime became the 66th goaltender in NHL history to reach 200 wins

STAT SHEET

Bruins
Patrice Bergeron
had a goal and an assist Saturday and now has four points (one goal, three assists) in his last three games. He leads the team with 49 points and is tied for the team lead in assists with Chara (32).

Marco Sturm broke a seven-game pointless streak with an assist Saturday. He leads the team with 21 goals but hasn’t scored in eight games.

David Krejci had a goal and assist Saturday and now has six points (two goals, four assists) in his last three games and 15 points (five goals, 10 assists) in the 14 games since the Olympic break. Krejci is second on the team with 46 points.

Mark Recchi scored his 17th goal of the season on Saturday and added an assist. Recchi now has scored in two straight games and has three points in two games. He is third on the team in points with 40.

Chara had a goal and an assist Saturday and has scored in two straight games. He also has a three-game point streak going with four points (two goals, two assists) during that stretch. He leads the defense in points with 39.

Dennis Seidenberg scored a goal Saturday and now has a three-game point streak going with a goal and two assists. He has eight points in 12 games with the Bruins since being acquired at the trade deadline. Seidenberg has 28 helpers and 31 points this season.

Dennis Wideman had two helpers Saturday and now has three in his last two games. Wideman has 21 assists and four goals this season.

The Bruins' penalty kill took care of all three Calgary power plays Saturday including a five-minute man advantage for the Flames in the third period. The unit has surrendered only 36 goals on 254 power plays faced, with an 85.8 percent success rate — second-best in the NHL behind St. Louis.

Sabres
Tim Connolly is first on the team in assists with 48 and points with 68. He has three points (two goals, assist) in his last three games.

Derek Roy recorded the fourth hat trick of his career Saturday. Roy has three goals and three assists in the past four games. He is second on the team in assists with 38 and points with 60.

Jason Pominville had a goal and two assists Saturday and now has a four-game point streak going with six points (two goals, four assists) during that span. Pominville is third on the team in points with 58.

Tyler Myers had an assist Saturday and now has five assists in his last five games. The rookie rear guard leads the Sabres' blue line with 33 assists and 43 points.

The Sabres' power play was 3-for-4 on Saturday. Buffalo is 51-for-292 on the power play this season with a 17.5 percent success rate.

The Sabres killed off both Lightning power plays Saturday. They’ve allowed only 36 goals on 251 power plays faced with an 85.7 percent success rate.

BLACK AND BLUE

Bruins
Marc Savard is out indefinitely with a grade 2 concussion.

Andrew Ference (groin) has not skated for the last three days and is questionable.

Sabres
Tim Connolly is questionable with a foot injury

Raffi Torres has an upper-body injury and is day-to-day.

Thomas Vanek suffered a lower-body injury Saturday and is day-to-day. He is not expected to play.

Patrick Kaleta has an "upper-body, outer-extremity" injury and is out indefinitely.

THIS DATE IN BRUINS HISTORY

On March 29, 1986, 19-year-old rookie Bill Ranford plays in his first NHL game, a 2-1 win over Buffalo. Ranford had just been recalled from his junior team, the New Westminster Bruins.

OVERHEARD

“I think we try to be physical every game. I mean getting on top of guys, pressuring them and not allowing them any time to make plays. We didn’t give [the Flames] enough time [Saturday] to make plays. We kind of smothered them whenever they had the puck.”
–Defenseman Dennis Seidenberg, on the Bruins’ physical game

PRESS BOX

Bruins
Andrew Ference missed practice again and it appears that Johnny Boychuk will avoid suspension for his elbow on Flames forward Rene Bourque.

Patrice Bergeron can sympathize with what Marc Savard is going through right now

Tim Thomas was ready Saturday in his first start since March 15.

Sabres
The Sabres clinched a playoff spot for the first time since 2006-07 with their 7-1 win over Tampa Bay on Saturday.

Does Ryan Miller deserve the Hart Trophy?

Rookie Tyler Ennis answered a late-night call to come to Buffalo and filled in nicely.

NHL
Will it be Sidney Crosby vs. Alex Ovechkin at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh for the 2011 Winter Classic?

The Flyers, who the Bruins are battling for a playoff spot, are having some dressing room issues.

The new rule against blindside hits and head shots isn’t going to change the culture of the NHL overnight.

OUTLOOK

The Bruins have shown recently that they can put forth a complete 60-minute effort and stick within their game plan. Now, with the possible re-emergence of their power play, they could be in good shape for the final eight games. The key will be, once again, finding consistency. They control their own destiny and have proven they can be a playoff team if they want it.

The question remains: how bad do they want it? It's time to show themselves and their frustrated fans that they want it bad. They have played the Sabres well this season, and if they can have a solid start again, they should be in good shape.

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