Sabres get another crack at Northeast rival Bruins
BRUINS (33-16-2) at SABRES (22-24-6)
TV: NBCSP (HD), TSN2
Boston 5-4-1; Buffalo 4-5-1
Third of six meetings between these Northeast Division rivals. The Bruins earlier beat the Sabres twice in the span of 12 days, as Tyler Seguin
scored twice and added an assist in a 6-2 win on Nov. 12 in Boston, while Benoit Pouliot
's goal in the fifth round of a shootout proved decisive in a 4-3 victory on Nov. 23 in Buffalo.
In danger of losing three straight for the first time since their Stanley Cup hangover-plagued month of October, the Bruins responded with a decisive win in Washington on Sunday and will now look to string back-to-back victories together, something Boston hasn't accomplished in its last dozen games. The Sabres, meanwhile, have a ways to go in order to climb back into the playoff picture, but their rally against the Islanders on Saturday night was a good starting point.
This past weekend marked Boston's second trip to Washington in less than two weeks. The first time around, Tuukka Rask
got the start in what ended up a 5-3 defeat. This time around, with the Bruins needing to stop a brief slide, Thomas stood front and center. He finished with 35 saves and was supported by a goal and assist each from Brad Marchand
and Rich Peverley
in a 4-1 win over the Capitals.
"Tim's capable of doing that for us, and he's done that a lot in the past," coach Claude Julien said. "And I thought he was on top of his game today."
In order for Buffalo to get into the postseason it'll take a pretty hefty comeback in the standings. The Sabres showed the proper mentality on Saturday night, as they fell behind 3-1 after one period on Long Island, but worked their way back into the game and eventually stole a 4-3 shootout victory. Derek Roy scored late in the second, Paul Gaustad evened things up midway through the third and goals by Brad Boyes and Jason Pominville in the penalty-shot tiebreaker sealed the critical two-point effort.
"This team needed one of those nights," goalie Ryan Miller, who passed Dominik Hasek as the franchise's all-time winningest goaltender, said in the Buffalo News. "If we're gonna come back in a season, we're going to have to come back in a game."
Marchand has 3 goals and 3 assists over the Bruins' last six games. … Gaustad has 2 goals and 2 assists over the Sabres' last three games. Miller is 3-0-1 in his last four starts, giving up just five goals during that span with a .959 save percentage.
Boston forward Nathan Horton
is out indefinitely with a mild concussion. … Buffalo forward Thomas Vanek (upper body) is day-to-day. Defensemen Brayden McNabb (concussion-like symptoms) and TJ Brennan (concussion-like symptoms) and forwards Corey Tropp (upper body), Colin Stuart (lower body) and Jochen Hecht (concussion) are on injured reserve.
Seguin scored his team-leading 20th goal Sunday for the Bruins, while Marchand and Milan Lucic
each remained one behind with their 19th tallies. … The Sabres, who have matched their season high with three straight road wins, also have points in eight consecutive games at First Niagara Center (4-0-4).
Buffalo's struggles this season have led to some trade talk surrounding Miller, who has stated he has no desire to play elsewhere. There were happier to things to talk about Saturday after he passed the legendary Hasek in the franchise's record books.
"I'm proud of it, it's nice. I'm proud of being a Buffalo Sabre," Miller said. "I was really excited coming in as a young player, looking up to Dominik Hasek. To be here that long, and to play with some great teams and great players. And to play for a coaching staff and a support staff that has had my back for a number of years now, it's nice. I get a source of pride from that."
--- With edits from BostonBruins.com