Sabres hope effort translates into win vs. Bruins

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Consistency remains a problem for the Buffalo Sabres as they look to turn things around for good.

Buffalo will look to put forth a more consistent effort on Tuesday night in a nationally-televised home game against the Boston Bruins.

The Sabres (8-18-7) are coming off one of their better offensive efforts of the season on Friday against the Carolina Hurricanes. In that game, former second overall pick Jack Eichel delivered his first career hat trick but the Sabres ultimately came up short in a 5-4 overtime defeat.

Those outcomes are the story of the season in recent weeks for Buffalo. After a dreadful stretch in November that saw Buffalo lose 11 of 12 games, the Sabres have been better as of late but have yet to see it pay off in the standings.

Buffalo has points in five of its last six games but has also lost four of its last five games (1-1-3).

“There was a lot of good things, but at the end of the day, we only get one point,” Eichel said after the loss to Carolina. “It stings a little bit.

“It’s not good enough to get a point. It seems like it’s been the reoccurring theme here of late. We’ve had good effort and put ourselves in games and had opportunities to win and we’re coming out with overtime losses.”

Sabres coach Phil Housley continues to stress consistency, structure and urgency in Buffalo’s play on the ice.

“It’s just those little details and I continue to talk about it, our play without the puck,” Housley said. “It’s that urgency that something bad could happen, and (against Carolina) it did.”

With 28 points (11 goals, 17 assists), Eichel is second on the team in scoring. Evander Kane (14 goals, 17 assists) has been Buffalo’s best and most consistent player this year and leads Buffalo in scoring.

One bright spot for Buffalo has been the play of goalie Robin Lehner, who has really come on as of late. Lehner has a save percentage of .911 in 25 games played this year.

The Sabres could get some help sometime this week as Jacob Josefson looks to return from an ankle injury. Josefson has missed much of the season due to injury but has performed well as a depth player when in the lineup.

Boston (16-10-5) is entering a busy period of the schedule; the Bruins are in the middle of a stretch of three games in four days and seven games in 10 days.

The Bruins head to Buffalo following a big 7-2 win over Columbus on Monday night at home. Improving on the power play was a focal point after struggling in a Saturday overtime loss to the New York Rangers and the Bruins came up with two power-play goals in the second period against Columbus to open the flood gates on offense.

“It was good to get the first goal,” Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said after his team scored the first three goals. “It’s always an advantage, especially at home, to get the other team chasing the game.”

Charlie McAvoy scored a power-play goal and added an assist. Fellow Bruins rookies Danton Heinen and Jake DeBrusk played key roles with a goal and two assists.

Heinen has four goals and nine points in the last seven games.

David Pastrnak leads the Bruins in scoring with 31 points (15 goals, 16 assists); Brad Marchand is second in scoring with 29 points (14 goals, 15 assists). Both Tuukka Rask (.912 save percentage) and Anton Khudobin (.915 save percentage) have excelled between the pipes.