In the midst of their longest losing streak this season, a visit from the lowly Boston Bruins couldn't have come at a better time for the Buffalo Sabres.
The Sabres wrap up a disappointing January on Tuesday looking to continue their dominance over the last-place Bruins.
Buffalo (33-14-4) leads the Eastern Conference with 70 points, but has been sliding lately. A 5-3 loss to the New York Islanders on Saturday marked their season-high third straight loss, and eighth in 12 games.
"Every loss matters," Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said. "I think we have some players who are a little out of sync now. With the break, and having some guys at the All-Star game, we need to get a few heads back on shoulders."
Buffalo led the Islanders heading into the third period before allowing three unanswered goals. That came one night after it gave up two unanswered third-period goals in a 3-2 loss to Columbus.
"It's tough when you lose back-to-back games by blowing leads and giving up late goals," the Sabres' Chris Drury said. "It's a long season. We can't get too high when things are going well, and we can't get too low when we hit a rough patch. We just have to focus on the next game."
The Sabres have the chance to get back on track against Boston (22-21-4), which they are 3-0-1 against this season, and 10-1-1 against since the start of last season. Buffalo has also won five straight over the Bruins at HSBC Arena, outscoring them 23-11.
The Sabres have been struggling on the power play recently. Since scoring man-advantage goals in a season high-tying six straight games from Dec. 26-Jan. 5, Buffalo is 6-for-47 on the power play over its last 10 games.
During its home win streak over the Bruins, the Sabres have converted 10-of-28 power-play opportunities.
The Bruins, meanwhile, haven't won a road game in 2007, going 0-6-0 since Dec. 30, and scoring only two power-play goals in 22 chances.
Maxim Afinogenov has four goals and two assists against the Bruins this season, while Thomas Vanek has five goals and 11 assists in 12 career games against them.
Goaltender Ryan Miller is just 3-5-1 with a 3.18 goals-against average since Jan. 3, but has been sharp in his career against Boston. Miller is 7-1-1 with a 2.74 GAA in his career against the Bruins, and has won all five home games against them, posting a 2.20 GAA in those contests.
Boston scoring woes continued with a 6-1 loss to the New York Rangers on Monday. The Bruins have lost three straight - scoring just two goals - and are 3-9-1 since Dec. 30.
"It's a devastating loss," said Boston coach Dave Lewis, who shook up his lines during the game and said more changes could come soon. "We're going to pick ourselves back up and get ready for a hockey game tomorrow. We'll see what happens. The thing for me is don't quit, never surrender."
Patrice Bergeron's power-play goal Monday tied the score at 1 midway through the first period. It was his first goal in seven games and 16th of the season.