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Bruins back on the ice, can clinch against Sabres

by Brian Hunter

SABRES (18-19-6) at BRUINS (26-11-4)


Last 10: Buffalo 5-3-2; Boston 5-4-1

Season series: Fifth and final meeting of the regular season between these Northeast Division rivals. They've split the first four, with the Buffalo Sabres winning the only prior game played at TD Garden. Thomas Vanek (3-2-5) and Tyler Ennis (2-3-5) are their leading scorers, while David Krejci (2-3-5) paces the Boston Bruins.

Big story: With the Celtics' game on Tuesday being canceled and the Red Sox on the road, this marks the first major sporting event in the city of Boston since the tragic events of Monday afternoon, when multiple explosions at the Boston Marathon killed three people and injured well over a hundred more. The Bruins postponed their game that evening against the Ottawa Senators and will now get back to action after a three-day break. A win or a post-regulation loss will clinch a berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Team Scope:

Sabres: At the very least, this game provides Buffalo the opportunity to reach a .500 points percentage for the season -- the Sabres have won two in a row and are clinging to the hope that if they run the table and get a lot of help, they could still sneak into the playoffs. Jhonas Enroth stepped up over the weekend and stopped 61 of 62 shots in victories over the Flyers and Lightning, doubling his win total for the season in the process.

"Jhonas played amazing. He's a big reason why we got two wins this weekend," Ennis, whose power-play goal opened the scoring, told the Buffalo News. "We're playing well and getting contributions from everyone. We're going to have to stay on the gas because we've only got five games left."

Bruins: Seven games still remain for Boston, and the question of where the Bruins will end up seeded has several possible answers. They're in the running for the division title and a No. 2 slot, but if they don't string some wins together they could still be passed by the Maple Leafs and lose home ice for the first round. The expectation earlier in the week was Swedish forward Carl Soderberg would make his NHL debut against the Sabres, and Patrice Bergeron, who might have played Monday, could return after missing six games with a concussion. Regardless, the game figures to be about a lot more than just hockey for many in the community.

"I mean, hopefully it can take people's minds off things that happened [Monday] at least for a few hours and give them a little bit of a sense of relief to maybe watch us go out and give a good effort," forward Shawn Thornton said. "There's not much else we can do. We can focus on playing. I'm sure we'll start doing some things to try to give back what we can. But as far as playing the game, all we can do is focus on showing up and giving as good an effort as we can."

Who's hot: Enroth has won four of his past five starts for the Sabres with a 1.37 goals-against average and .958 save percentage. Kevin Porter has two goals and two assists during a four-game points streak. … Tyler Seguin has goals in three consecutive games for the Bruins. Jaromir Jagr has six assists during a four-game points streak.

Injury report: Buffalo has defensemen Tyler Myers (leg) and Alexander Sulzer (leg) and forward Ville Leino (upper body) sidelined. … Boston forward Brad Marchand (concussion) has missed the past two games, but is skating again.

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