Backes likely to miss Sabres-Bruins rematch (Dec 31, 2016)

BY AP • December 30, 2016

BOSTON -- Back in the old days of the NHL, when there were six teams in the league, home-and-home series were commonplace, with the teams playing in one city on Saturday night and even riding the same train to play in the other the next.

And Game 2 would often boil over because of incidents that may have happened in Game 1.

The amount of teams, and the lower number of back-to-backs, have cut down on these two-game mini-series. And when we do see them now they're usually accompanied by a travel day -- by chartered jet in between.

The Boston Bruins and Buffalo Sabres meet Saturday at TD Garden, two days after the Bruins rallied from two goals down and defeated the Sabres 4-2.

But just because there's a day in between, you can't automatically eliminate carryover from the first game.

On Thursday night, Boston's David Backes took a hit to the head from Buffalo's William Carrier and made his way to the dressing room, officially with an upper-body injury.

"He's being assessed today and (the organization) should produce something when they know more," Bruins coach Claude Julien said Friday. "Obviously he's seeing the doctors and he's seeing everybody else. That's all I have."

Carrier will not face league discipline, which means he could be on the ice and available for some "discipline" Saturday -- unless he can't play after aggravating a hand injury in a fight with Adam McQuaid. The Boston defenseman sought some revenge but wound up getting cut in the fight because he was held by one of the linesmen. Carrier cut his hand.

The Bruins ended a two-game losing streak with the comeback win and finished 2-1-1 on a four-game road trip. The victory also got them back with as many wins as losses -- 19-15-4.

"We showed that we can battle back," said Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask. "I think the really good thing was that we battled back in the second and then in the third we just took it to them. We weren't afraid to lose the game, we wanted to win it."

"It should give us a boost for the next game," said Boston's David Krejci, who tied the game 2-2 after Patrice Bergeron started the comeback and before Ryan Spooner tallied twice, the second into an empty net. "We have to focus and be ready from the puck drop, not just when we're down a couple goals. We have to start playing right away, that's what we have to focus on."

The Bruins have often been victims of poor starts, falling behind by either two or three goals in six of their last 12 games -- and of playing poorly at home, where they are just 8-9-0 this season.

It was the first time since 1993 that the Sabres didn't earn at least one point in the front end of a home-and-home set with the rival Bruins -- Buffalo was 4-0-2 in those games before Thursday.

Rask blanked the Sabres 4-0 in Boston on Nov. 7. Former Boston University star Jack Eichel was injured for that game but will have a homecoming Saturday.

The Bruins are 10-1-2 in their last 13 games against Buffalo, 5-1-2 in their last eight at home.

The Sabres have lost five of their last six (1-3-2) to drop to 13-14-8. They are tied for last in the Eastern Conference, but the Bruins have lost four of their last five at home and three of the losses were to last-place teams.

Buffalo's Kyle Okposo, who scored Thursday, has five goals and 23 points in 26 career games against the Bruins, but the Sabres were unable to hold the early 2-0 lead.

"We were mentally ready for this game," Marcus Foligno said of the strong start. "I mean, everyone was mentally ready. It's frustrating because you have such a good first period and you can't get it going again in the second and the third."

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