Bruins-Sabres Preview

Road woes have played a large part in the Boston Bruins’ slip in
the Eastern Conference standings but they will face a potentially
short-handed rival in their next game away from home.

The Buffalo Sabres, though, will be seeking to add to a
five-game point streak at the First Niagara Center when they face
the Bruins on Sunday night.

Boston was challenging for the Eastern Conference lead earlier
this month but has fallen well behind Pittsburgh by going 2-4-1 in
its last seven. The Bruins (21-8-4) suffered their fifth loss in
six road games Saturday, 3-1 to Philadelphia.

Boston got its lone goal from Nathan Horton in the third period
despite outshooting the Flyers 34-22. In their previous game
Wednesday, the Bruins matched their best scoring performance of the
season but fell 6-5 in a shootout to Montreal.

“We know we have to get better,” goaltender Tuukka Rask said.
“We haven’t played that bad, but it’s uncharacteristic mistakes.
And it’s something we need to get rid of.

“It happens but then again … we know we need to get better in
all areas. It’s weird because we’re not playing awful and we’re
losing games, but we know it’s not good enough.”

The Bruins would appear to need a better performance Sunday as
Buffalo is 3-0-2 in its last five home games, but the Sabres
(13-16-6) are also 0-1-2 in their last three overall after blowing
a two-goal lead Saturday against visiting Washington.

They gave up the tying goal with 40 seconds left in regulation
en route to a 4-3 shootout defeat. It was the sixth time Buffalo
has failed to capitalize on a two-goal advantage.

The Sabres also blew a one-goal lead in the third period against
Florida in a 5-4 shootout loss Thursday.

“It’s happened too many times,” said forward Ville Leino, who
scored a pair of goals Saturday. “It shouldn’t happen. Good teams
usually win those games.”

Leading scorer Thomas Vanek missed both of those losses with an
upper-body injury, but interim coach Ron Rolston told the league’s
website there’s a chance he could return Sunday. Vanek participated
in the team’s optional skate Saturday, but Rolston said, “he was
out there today and moving, but he’s not where he needs to be.”

The Sabres won’t have defenseman Jordan Leopold after he was
traded to St. Louis on Saturday for a pair of draft picks. General
manager Darcy Regier said that might not be the end to Buffalo’s
moves before the trade deadline, even hinting that Vanek,
goaltender Ryan Miller and captain Jason Pominville are available
if an enticing deal comes along.

“Where our hockey club is right now, we have to be open to
listening to just about anything and everything,” Regier said. “I
have talked to all 29 GMs over the last week, and I’ll continue to
try to figure out ways that we can get better not just for the rest
of this year but, more importantly, for the future.”

In the meantime, the Sabres will try to earn their third win in
four meetings with Boston this season. The used their own
three-goal outburst in the third period for a 4-2 victory in the
most recent meeting Feb. 15 in Buffalo.

The Sabres are also 5-1-1 in the last seven visits from the
Bruins but suffered one of those losses on Feb. 10. Boston scored
twice in the third period for that 3-1 win.

Miller will likely be back in net after Jhonas Enroth started
Saturday. Miller is 16-2-4 with a 2.04 goals-against average at
home against Boston in the regular season.