Bruins-Sabres Preview

The last six weeks have been a struggle for the Northeast

Division-leading Boston Bruins.

The low point came in Buffalo two weeks ago.

The Bruins look to avenge their most lopsided defeat in four

years and string together back-to-back victories for the first time

since mid-January when they face the Sabres on Friday night at the

First Niagara Center.

Boston (36-20-2) outscored Buffalo 10-5 in winning the first two

meetings, with Tyler Seguin combining for three goals and two

assists and Brad Marchand adding two goals and two assists. Those

games, however, took place in November, when the Bruins were nearly

perfect.

Boston has been anything but lately, going 8-9-1 since the last

time it won back-to-back games Jan. 10 and 12.

The Bruins’ most glaring defeat over that stretch took place in

Buffalo on Feb. 8, when the Sabres (26-27-7) handed Boston a 6-0

loss. It’s the most goals the Bruins have allowed all season and

was their most lopsided defeat since falling 8-2 to Toronto on

March 6, 2008.

Tuukka Rask was pulled after allowing three goals on 10 shots

and the Sabres – led by Ryan Miller’s 36 saves and Jason

Pominville’s two goals – showed some grit by getting involved in

several fights with the physical Bruins.

Although Boston hasn’t been playing well lately, it arrives in

Buffalo – the fifth stop on a season-high six-game trip – feeling a

bit better about its situation.

After being shut out for the fourth time in 10 February games

with Sunday’s 2-0 loss to Minnesota, the Bruins beat St. Louis 4-2

on Wednesday, handing the Blues their first regulation home loss

since Dec. 3. Marchand scored twice and Tim Thomas stopped the

final 27 shots he faced after allowing two goals on the first

five.

“This was a big win for us after being shut out in the last

game,” Marchand said. “With a couple of losses in a row, we wanted

to make sure we followed up with a good game.”

Marchand is tied with Milan Lucic for the team lead with 21

goals but had been part of Boston’s offensive struggles, scoring

just once in his first nine games this month.

The Bruins’ sputtering power play has also had a lot to do with

the scoring woes, going 2 for 22 in the last 10 games.

Buffalo’s power play has been even worse, converting 1 of 32

chances in its last 12 contests.

The Sabres own one of the Eastern Conference’s worst records but

are still in contention for one of the final playoff spots. They’re

coming off Tuesday’s 2-1 win over the New York Islanders, their

second straight victory following a four-game skid.

“We’re happy, but at the same time, we’ve got to get some more

points,” center Derek Roy said. “We’ve got to keep winning hockey

games. We can’t win one, lose one anymore. We’ve got to put a

streak together. We’ve got to gain some ground right now.”

Roy and Pominville assisted on Tuesday’s goals by Tyler Myers

and Thomas Vanek and have been leading Buffalo’s offense

lately.

Pominville, who has team highs of 23 goals and 36 assists, has

six goals and six assists in his last nine games. Roy has two goals

and five assists in his last four contests after totaling three

goals and an assist in his previous 19.

Miller finished with 30 saves against the Islanders, coming

within 5:08 of his first shutout since beating the Bruins two weeks

ago.