Bruins Seeking Back-to-Back Road Victories

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November 20, 2009

Bruins Seeking Back-to-Back Road Victories Playing back-to-back nights could be a blessing and not a burden for the Bruins on Friday night, when they travel to Buffalo to take on the first-place Sabres.

Consecutive games on the road are always tough, but the Bruins could be riding some momentum after a 4-3 shootout victory over the Thrashers on Thursday night.

When and Where

Friday, Nov. 20, 7:30 p.m. (NESN)
HSBC Arena, Buffalo, N.Y.

Records

Bruins (9-8-4, 22 points, third place in Northeast Division, tied for ninth in Eastern Conference)
Sabres (12-5-1, 25 points, first place in Northeast Division, third place in Eastern Conference)

Head to Head

The Bruins beat the Sabres 4-2 on Nov. 7 at the TD Garden. In that game, Tuukka Rask stopped 28 of 30 shots, while four different Bruins lit the lamp.

Buffalo bettered Boston last season, as the Sabres went 3-2-1 against the Bruins.

Skinny

It’s been an eventful couple of days for the Bruins, with Milan Lucic returning to the ice on Thursday night and Marc Savard skating with the team in the morning skate. It’s unclear whether Savard will play on Thursday, but he is getting closer.

His teammates are apparently just as antsy as the fans are to see Savvy back on the ice.

“The guys were already treating me great,” he said. “Even [Thursday morning] when I got a couple goals out there, they were already cheering and yelling out, ‘He’s ready, he’s ready!’ So I think they’re trying to squeeze me in themselves.”

With or without Savard, the Bruins will have some tired legs. A Thrashers goal with 41 seconds left in Thursday’s game forced an overtime period, but the B’s were able to come away with a shootout win. That was largely thanks to Tuukka Rask for stonewalling Atlanta and to Patrice Bergeron for scoring the shootout’s lone goal.

Projected Lineups

Bruins
Forwards
Marco Sturm–Patrice Bergeron–Mark Recchi
Blake Wheeler–David Krejc–Michael Ryder
Milan Lucic–Steve Begin–Byron Bitz
Daniel Paille–Vladimir Sobotka–Shawn Thornton

Defensemen
Zdeno Chara–Derek Morris
Andrew Ference–Dennis Wideman
Mark Stuart–Matt Hunwick

Goaltenders
Tim Thomas
Tuukka Rask

Sabres
Forwards
Thomas Vanek–Tim Connolly–Drew Stafford
Clarke MacArthur–Derek Roy–Jason Pominville
Jochen Hecht–Tim Kennedy–Patrick Kaleta
Matt Ellis–Paul Gaustad–Adam Mair

Defensemen
Chris Butler–Craig Rivet
Henrik Tallinder–Tyler Myers
Andrej Sekera–Steve Montador

Goaltenders
Ryan Miller
Patrick Lalime

Goaltender Matchup

Bruins
Tim Thomas
is 5-6-3 with a 2.33 GAA and .918 save percentage. He has three shutouts this season.

Tuukka Rask is 4-2-1 with a 2.49 GAA and .911 save percentage. He earned a shootout victory on Thursday night and has one shutout this season.

Sabres
Ryan Miller
is 12-3-1 with a 1.97 GAA and .931 save percentage. He has two shutouts this season.

Patrick Lalime is 0-10 with a 4.14 GAA and .854 save percentage.

Stat Sheet

Bruins
Dennis Wideman 
had wo assists on Thursday night to record his 99th and 100th of his career. On the season, he has one goal and five assists to go with an even plus-minus rating.

Michael Ryder scored a pair of goals on Thursday, bringing his season total to bring his season total to six. He’s now scored three goals in the last two games after going on a 10-game scoreless streak.

Patrice Bergeron leads the team with 13 points (6 goals,7 assists). Derek Morris, Zdeno Chara and Blake Wheeler are tied for second with 11 points.

The Bruins successfully killed off six of seven penalties on Thursday night, bringing their penalty kill to 84.8 percent effectiveness on the season. That ranks third in the league.

Sabres
Tim Connolly
leads the Sabres in points with 16 (4 goals, 12 assists).

Thomas Vanek, Clarke MacArthur and Drew Stafford are tied for most goals on the team with six each.

Eight Sabres have eight points or more.

Ryan Miller’s 12 wins are tied for most in the NHL. His .197 GAA ranks second in the NHL, behind Tampa Bay’s Antero Niittymaki. Miller (.931) also trails Niitymaki (.937) in save percentage.

Defenseman Henrik Tallinder leads the team with a plus-seven rating.

Black and Blue

Bruins
Marc Savard is close to returning from his broken foot. He will likely be a game-time decision on Friday.

Tim Thomas did not get the start Thursday night due to an undisclosed injury. It’s not known if he’ll be ready for Friday’s game.

Sabres
Former BU Terrier Mike Grier strained his groin on Nov. 11 and is questionable.

This Date in Bruins History

Byron Dafoe is pulled after allowing three goals on nine shots in two periods against the Sabres on Nov. 20, 1997. Buffalo, led by Dominik Hasek‘s 29 saves, shuts out the Bruins 5-0. 

Overhead

“You have to look at what you did and build on it. You?ve got to stay out of the penalty box. Some of the penalties were warranted, but some of them, I thought, were tough calls against us in the third. But nonetheless, we?ve got to stay out of the box. But we were committed in most areas, and that?s what gave us success.”
–Claude Julien, to NESN’s Naoko Funayama, after the Bruins’ 4-3 shootout win on Thursday

Press Box

Bruins
The B’s blew a late lead but won in a shootout on Thursday.

The Bruins are being cautious in bringing back Marc Savard.

Sabres
Some say that Thomas Vanek looks “off.”

The Sabres are expecting a better outcome than that of their last meeting with the Bruins.

NHL
The Hurricanes rallied from three goals down to beat the Maple Leafs.

Yahoo takes a look at the 10 best hockey games of the decade.

New shoulder pads could keep players safer.

Outlook

Winning consecutive games has not been the Bruins’ biggest skill this season. They’ve accomplished the feat just once, though that time was sparked by the 4-2 win over the Sabres (the B’s won the next time out against Pittsburgh).

To pull it off this time around, the Bruins will need to leave their excuses on the bus. Though they’ll arrive in Buffalo early Friday morning, they’ll have to shake off the fatigue and put in a solid effort against a Sabres team that is still fuming about a 6-2 loss to the Panthers on Wednesday.

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