Bruins Take on First-Place Sabres in Search of Second Straight Win

Bruins Take on First-Place Sabres in Search of Second Straight Win The Bruins finally got a taste of victory and now they want more.

Boston broke a 10-game winless skid with a 3-0 win at Montreal on Sunday for their first win since Jan.14, and they finally believe they know what they have to do to keep winning.

“If we want to make up for that lost ground, we’ve got to keep playing that way to give ourselves a chance every night,’’ coach Claude Julien said. “We got one win [Sunday]. But there’s a lot of catching up to do because we dug ourselves a hole. We’ve got to dig ourselves out. It’s going to take consecutive wins.’’

Meanwhile, the Sabres come into Tuesday’s matchup mired in a four-game losing streak and are losing their grip on the Northeast Division and a top-three spot in the Eastern Conference. They lead the Ottawa Senators by only a point, and with a loss to the B's and a Senators win Tuesday, Buffalo could wake up in second place in the Northeast for the first time since late October.

When And Where

Tuesday, Feb. 9, 7 p.m. (NESN)
HSBC Arena, Buffalo, N.Y.

Records

Bruins (24-21-11, 59 points, fourth place in Northeast Division, ninth place in Eastern Conference)
Sabres (32-18-7, 71 points, first in Northeast Division, third place in Eastern Conference)

Head to Head

The Bruins are 2-1-0 against the Sabres this season, winning 4-2 at the TD Garden on Nov. 7 and 2-1 in overtime on Nov. 20 at Buffalo. The B's only loss to the Sabres came in their last meeting, a 2-1 loss on Jan. 29 at Buffalo.

This is the fourth of six meetings between the two division rivals. They will meet again March 29 and April 8 at the TD Garden.

The Bruins lead the lifetime series 70-41-14-1.

Skinny

Tuukka Rask appears to have taken over the starting role for the Bruins. Rask won his 11th game thanks to a 36-save performance in the 3-0 win over Montreal Sunday which came on the heels of solid starts his previous two appearances.

“You look at the way he’s played and technically he’s been pretty sound,” Julien said after the win Sunday. “Even in the last two games he got us a point. The reason we didn’t get two points was because we didn’t do our job offensively. And he’s been good. Right now we’re at a stage where you’ve got to go with the goalie that’s playing the best. And right now he’s playing the best. We know what Tim [Thomas] can do and Tim will be there at some point, there’s no doubt. But right now I think Tuukka’s done a pretty good job.”

Projected Lineups

Bruins
Forwards
Milan Lucic–Marc Savard–Miroslav Satan
Marco Sturm–Patrice Bergeron–Mark Recchi
Blake Wheeler–*David Krejci/Vladimir Sobotka–Michael Ryder
Daniel Paille–Steve Begin–Shawn Thornton/Byron Bitz

Defensemen
Zdeno Chara–Derek Morris
Matt Hunwick–Dennis Wideman
Andrew Ference–Adam McQuaid

Goaltenders
Tuukka Rask
Tim Thomas

*David Krejci is a game-time decision
 
Sabres
Forwards

Jochen Hecht–Tim Connolly–Jason Pominville
Thomas Vanek–Derek Roy–Drew Stafford
Clarke MacArthur–Paul Gaustad–Mike Grier
Adam Mair–Matt Ellis–Steve Montador/Tim Kennedy

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

Goaltenders
Ryan Miller
Patrick Lalime

Goaltender Matchup

Bruins
Tim Thomas
is 13-15-7 with a 2.52 GAA and .915 save percentage. Thomas has four shutouts. Thomas is winless (0-4-2) in his last six starts.

Tuukka Rask is 11-7-4 with a 2.02 GAA and .929 save percentage. Rask made 36 saves in a 3-0 win Sunday and now has three shutouts. He is second in the NHL in GAA and third in save percentage.

Sabres
Ryan Miller
is 29-14-5 with a 2.16 GAA and .931 save percentage. He is ranked third in GAA and first in save percentage. Miller has five shutouts. Miller has struggled as of late though, losing his last three starts.

Patrick Lalime is 3-3-2 with a 3.21 GAA and .896 save percentage.

Stat Sheet

Bruins
Patrice Bergeron
had two assists Sunday and now has 24 helpers this season. He leads the team with 36 points.

Zdeno Chara had an assist Sunday and is second on the team in points with 31 and leads the team with 26 assists.

Marc Savard had an assist Sunday and now has an assist in five of the six games he’s played since coming back Jan. 29 at Buffalo from a partially torn MCL. He has three points in his last two games and has 28 points this season.

Marco Sturm had two goals Sunday and leads the Bruins with 18 goals. Sturm has two goals and an assist in his last two games.

Adam McQuaid scored his first NHL goal Sunday.

Boston has the second-best penalty kill in the NHL. The Bruins killed off the lone Montreal power play Sunday. They have killed off 19 of the last 24 power plays they have faced and have allowed only 27 power-play goals on 203 power plays faced, boasting an 86.7 percent success rate.

The Bruins did not have a power play Sunday and are 35-for-193 this season with an 18.1 percent success rate. They have scored a power-play goal in four of their last five games.

Sabres
Tim Connolly
leads the Sabres in points with 52 and assists with 38. Connolly needs one assist to tie his career-high of 39 helpers, which he set in 2005-06.

Jason Pominville has three points in his last three games and is second on the team in points with 41.

Rookie Tyler Myers leads the Sabres’ blue line with 31 points and is a Calder Trophy candidate as rookie of the year.

The Sabres allowed two Columbus power-play goals on six attempts Saturday but still have the best penalty kill in the NHL. They have allowed only 26 power-play goals on 197 power plays faced with an 86.8 percent success rate.

The Sabres were 0-for-5 on the power play Saturday and are 41-for-231 with a 17.8 percent success rate.

Back and Blue

Bruins
Mark Stuart
is on injured reserve and out until after the Olympics with a broken finger.

Johnny Boychuk missed the last game with a broken orbital bone and will be out until after the Olympic break.

David Krejci left the game in Montreal Sunday with a leg injury and did not return. He is probable for Tuesday’s game.

Sabres
Patrick Kaleta
(bruised foot) and former Bruin Steve Montador (undisclosed) are questionable for Tuesday’s game.

This Date in Bruins History

On Feb. 9, 1991 Cam Neely scores a hat trick in a 5-3 win over Chicago.

Overheard

"This is a good team if they play their game, listen to Claude and get the goaltending they did Sunday, they can win enough games, but it's going to be boring hockey. But winning isn't boring, eh?"
–An NHL scout’s observation of the Bruins

Press Box

Bruins
Tuukka Rask
stole the game Sunday for the Bruins.

Tim Thomas is accepting the role of backup for now.

The Bruins must accept their identity.

Sabres
Ryan Miller is ready to right the ship for the Sabres.

Head coach Lindy Ruff let his team have it at practice Monday.

Here’s a good Sabres blog.

NHL
Habs GM Bob Gainey stepped down from his post and Pierre Gauthier is taking over in Montreal.

Another questionable hit in the NHL.

Are the Capitals headed for greatness?

Outlook

The Bruins have played the Sabres tight this season, holding the Northeast Division leaders to just three goals in three games. They need to continue to suffocate the Sabres' high-flying forwards and stick within their game plan. Another tough challenge will be to beat the NHL’s best goaltender in Ryan Miller. Boston must be patient and create as much traffic as they can in front of Miller, hoping their defensemen can continue to find the open lanes to the net and get the shots through.

The Bruins are finally coming off a win, now it’s time to get on a roll.

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