Sabres view home-and-home vs. Bruins as pivotal (Dec 29, 2016)

BY AP • December 29, 2016

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- With a six-point gap in the standings, the Buffalo Sabres are hoping to make up some ground on the Boston Bruins in a home-and-home series over three days.

The Sabres (13-13-8) host the Bruins (18-15-4) at 7 pm. on Thursday before heading to Boston for a matinee game on Saturday at 1 p.m.

After picking up its first regulation win in its past five games on Tuesday against the Detroit Red Wings, the Sabres view the upcoming home-and-home series as a potentially pivotal one.

"You're staring at Boston for a home-and-home and they're within earshot," Sabres head coach Dan Bylsma said, according to the team's website. "You have a chance of sweeping these two games and gaining four points on them and putting yourself right near them, right next to them in the standings."

The Sabres will need to go on a run relatively soon if they want to have a sniff of the postseason this year. Heading into Wednesday night's action, the Sabres were six points behind the Bruins for the third Atlantic Division playoff spot and 10 points out of a wild-card spot.

"We all have to be on the same page for these two games," Sabres forward Marcus Foligno said, according to the team's website. "It's obviously something that we've got to do better at our home rink here is get the fans into it, get our game established early. We really haven't been doing great here at home and that's definitely on us. It's something that we need to take pride in."

Buffalo picked up a 4-3 win over Detroit on Tuesday, giving Bylsma is 300th win as a head coach. Evander Kane scored twice, and the Sabres held back several strong comeback efforts by the Red Wings after jumping out to an early lead.

Robin Lehner made 40 saves in the victory for Buffalo.

The Bruins have lost three of their last four games (1-2-1) and are coming off a 4-3 defeat to the Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday night. Boston also lost to Carolina in overtime, 3-2, before the holiday break on Dec. 23.

"We're doing so many good things, but we're shooting ourselves in the foot sometimes," Bruins head coach Claude Julien said, according to the team's website. "We have to be better ourselves. For the most part, we're playing well enough that we should be winning those games. Hopefully we turn that trend around and find ways to win those games."

This will be the only home-and-home series for the Bruins this season. Boston won the first two meetings between the two teams, by scores of 4-0 and 2-1.

Brad Marchand leads the Bruins in scoring with 29 points (10 goals, 19 assists) in 37 games). David Pastrnak is second in scoring with 26 points (19 goals, 7 assists) in 30 games.

Tuukka Rask has stopped 67 of 68 shots this year against Buffalo.



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