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Buffalo Sabres vs. Boston Bruins

Saturday, 03.13.2004 / 12:00 PM

Associated Press

Sabres-Bruins Preview

GAME: Buffalo Sabres (31-31-6-2) at Boston Bruins (34-16-14-7).

TIME: Saturday, Noon EST.

With the slimmest of leads in the Northeast Division, the Boston Bruins try to run their unbeaten streak to five games as they conclude a home-and-home set with the Buffalo Sabres.

Thursday's 3-2 overtime win in Buffalo ended up giving the Bruins a one-point division lead over Toronto and Ottawa. That same night, the Maple Leafs lost to Pittsburgh and the Senators fell to Calgary.

"The race is so tight that the standings change day-to-day and game-to-game," Boston coach Mike Sullivan said. "Everyone on the team is aware of where we sit in the standings. When you are in a race like this, you can't help but scoreboard watch.

While Sullivan's team hosts Buffalo on Saturday, Toronto visits Montreal and Ottawa plays at Vancouver.

The Bruins grabbed sole possession of first place when Mike Knuble scored his 20th goal of the season and 100th of his NHL career 1:15 into overtime Thursday. Jiri Slegr and Martin Lapointe also scored for Boston, which has gone 3-0-1 in its last four after winning just three times in its previous 10 games.

Boston killed seven of Buffalo's eight power-play opportunities.

"We're not going to win many games taking that many penalties," Sullivan said. "I thought our penalty killers did a great job, and Felix (Potvin) was there to make a timely save for us when we needed it."

Potvin, the backup to rookie Andrew Raycroft, made 18 saves to run his unbeaten streak to four starts (3-0-1).

Recent acquisition Michael Nylander had three assists for the Bruins, who won for the seventh time when trailing after two periods (7-16-2-2).

"I think guys respond well to the challenge when things aren't going our way," Lapointe said.

The Bruins have won four of five meetings this season with the Sabres, but Buffalo won 3-2 at the FleetCenter on Jan. 22 to end a six-game winless streak in Boston.

While the Bruins are battling near the top of the East standings, the Sabres are chasing the New York Islanders for the conference's eighth and final playoff spot.

Miroslav Satan and J.P. Dumont scored Thursday for the Sabres, who have picked up seven of a possible 10 points in their last five games.

"We'll take the point," said goaltender Martin Biron, who was coming off Wednesday's shutout of Washington. "We've played six good periods of hockey the last two games, so we'll be content with it."

Buffalo defenseman Jeff Jillson played against his former team for the first time. Jillson was obtained by the Sabres in a three-way deadline deal that also involved San Jose.

STANDINGS (through March 11): Sabres - 70 points, 5th place, 19 PB, Northeast Division. Bruins - 89 points, 1st place, Northeast Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Sabres - Satan, 27 goals; Daniel Briere, 30 assists and 53 points; Andrew Peters, 124 PIM. Bruins - Glen Murray, 28 goals; Joe Thornton, 46 assists and 67 points; Doug Doull, 122 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS (through March 11): Sabres - Power play: 15.9 percent (49 for 308), 17th in NHL. Penalty killing: 84.8 percent (252 for 297), 7th. Bruins - Power play: 16.3 percent (41 for 252), 14th. Penalty killing: 83.4 percent (242 for 290), 21st.

GOALTENDERS: Sabres - Biron (20-15-4, 1 SO, 2.64 GAA); Mika Noronen (11-15-2, 2, 2.47). Bruins - Raycroft (23-16-8, 3, 1.99); Potvin (11-7-6, 4, 2.54).

SEASON SERIES: Bruins, 4-1.

LAST MEETING: Thursday; Bruins, 3-2, OT. At Buffalo, N.Y., the Bruins earned at least a point for the 13th time in 14 road games (8-1-3-2).

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Sabres - 13-19-2-0 on the road; Bruins - 14-9-8-2 at home.


Associated Press
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%