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Boston Bruins vs. Buffalo Sabres

Thursday, 02.05.2004 / 7:00 PM

Associated Press

Bruins-Sabres Preview

GAME: Boston Bruins (26-14-11-4) at Buffalo Sabres (23-25-5-1).

TIME: Thursday, 7 p.m. EST.

It's been more than 11 years since the Buffalo Sabres won five straight games.

The Boston Bruins did it last month.

Two of the league's hottest teams - both seeking their fifth straight victory - meet at HSBC Arena.

Though the teams in front of them continue to win, the Sabres have pulled within seven points of the New York Islanders for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

Buffalo has been off since completing a home-and-home sweep of the New York Rangers with a 3-1 victory Saturday.

J.P. Dumont and Maxim Afinogenov scored power-play goals in the first period and Martin Biron continued his strong play with 31 saves, leading the Sabres to their season-high fourth straight win.

Buffalo hasn't won five in a row since a six-game streak during the 1992-93 season.

"Guys are feeling like they're accomplishing something, but it's far from being mission accomplished," Biron said. "We have to keep our focus on the goal, and our goal is to keep moving up, getting some points, getting some wins."

Biron has won each of his last five starts while yielding seven goals.

Boston is coming off its fourth straight win, 5-4 over visiting Atlanta on Tuesday. Joe Thornton and Glen Murray combined for three goals and two assists and Brian Rolston snapped a tie with 93 seconds left in regulation.

The Bruins have been one of the league's hottest teams in 2004, going 12-3-1 to move within two points of Northeast Division-leading Toronto.

"We've got a lot of guys committed to doing the little things and the little things lead to the big things," Bruins coach Mike Sullivan said. "It's about holding everyone accountable and our players are buying into that."

For the past two games, Sullivan has used left wing Sergei Samsonov on a line with Rolston and rookie Patrice Bergeron. That line has three goals and three assists in that span.

"It's easy to play with those two," Rolston said. "Sergei dances with the puck and finds me. I try to get away from them. I don't want to get in their way."

Boston's top line of Thornton, Murray and Mike Knuble has been even better, producing six goals and six assists in the last two games. Murray may be the league's hottest player with goals in five straight games. He has 10 goals and three assists in his last nine contests.

Felix Potvin was in net for Tuesday's win, meaning Andrew Raycroft will likely get the start Thursday.

Raycroft has allowed two goals during a personal three-game win streak, and is among the league leaders with a 1.89 goals-against average.

2003-2004 season series
DateScoreW. Goal
Mar 13 '04BUF 2 at BOS 3 - OTM. Knuble
Mar 11 '04BOS 3 at BUF 2 - OTM. Knuble
Feb 05 '04BOS 6 at BUF 2P. Axelsson
Jan 22 '04BUF 3 at BOS 2M. Satan
Jan 15 '04BOS 1 at BUF 0S. Samsonov
Jan 12 '04BUF 3 at BOS 4S. Samsonov
PlayerGPGAP+/-PIMPPGW
GoalieGPRec.GASAGAASv%
PlayerGPGAP+/-PIMPPGW
GoalieGPRec.GASAGAASv%