Following a slow start after winning the Presidents’ Trophy last season, the Boston Bruins stood on the verge of their fourth win in five games before blowing a late two-goal lead at home earlier this week.
The Bruins hope to get back on track Thursday night in Buffalo by replicating their last performance against the Sabres, who look to finally secure their first home victory.
Boston was outscored 17-9 while dropping four of its first six games before showing signs of the form that led the club to the most points in the league for the first time since 1989-90.
The Bruins then outscored opponents 15-7 during a 3-1-0 stretch and appeared to be on the way to another win Saturday before allowing Minnesota to score three times over a 10-minute span in the third period of a 4-3 defeat.
"It’s just not good enough," Tuukka Rask, who stopped 38 of 42 shots, told the NHL’s official website. "You know, 40 shots, I’m not too worried about that, but just the style we give them up, it’s pretty bad sometimes."
The loss overshadowed a career night for rookie center Seth Griffith, who finished with two goals and assisted on Milan Lucic’s second-period score. David Krejci added an assist to extend his point streak to seven.
"We’re going to come and practice hard, and hopefully we’ll be ready for Buffalo," Griffith said. "We want to be an above .500 hockey team, and we took a step back."
The Bruins (5-6-0) might not have much trouble working out their issues against the Atlantic Division-worst Sabres (2-8-0), whose four points trail only winless Carolina’s two.
Buffalo started 0-8-1 at home in 2013 and has been outscored 13-2 while losing all four games on its own ice this season.
Boston dealt the Sabres one of those defeats Oct. 18, when Dougie Hamilton, Zdeno Chara, Torey Krug and Carl Soderberg scored while Niklas Svedberg had 32 saves in a 4-0 victory.
Soderberg has scored in three straight road games, and Krug has one goal with four assists in his last three meetings with the Sabres.
After picking up their second win Saturday at San Jose, the Sabres were routed 4-0 in Toronto on Tuesday to conclude a four-game trip. They finished with a franchise-worst 10 shots while getting shut out for the fourth time in six games.
Buffalo’s 10 goals are tied for the fourth-fewest through the first 10 games in NHL history, and fewest since Chicago scored that many in 1936-37.
”If you’re not going to shoot, you’re not going to score," coach Ted Nolan said. "It’s pure and simple as that. … You can draw up all the fancy game plays that you want, but the want has to be there.”
Tyler Ennis leads Buffalo with three goals, while Zemgus Girgensons and Marcus Foligno have two each. Matt Moulson, Drew Stafford and Cody Hodgson, who combined for 59 goals last season, have a goal and seven assists between them.
”If it was an easy fix, it would be fixed by now,” said Moulson, a three-time 30-goal-scorer.
Nolan is moving Hodgson to the fourth line against the Bruins, while Jhonas Enroth will get the start between the pipes. Enroth is 1-5-0 with a 3.13 goals-against average and 1-5-2 with a 3.89 GAA in nine games against Boston.