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Bruins meet Sabres in battle of teams needing wins

by Brian Hunter
BRUINS (24-22-11) at SABRES (32-18-7)

Last 10: Boston 1-6-3; Buffalo 2-7-1

Season Series:
Fourth of six meetings this season between Northeast Division rivals. The Bruins got off to a quick start, winning 4-2 at TD Garden on Nov. 7 and 2-1 at HSBC Arena on Nov. 20 when Patrice Bergeron scored 47 seconds into overtime. The Sabres responded with a 2-1 win at home on Jan. 29 as Ryan Miller made 30 saves.

Big Story: Much attention was paid to the Bruins' recent 10-game losing streak, which they finally snapped Sunday with a shutout in Montreal, but the Sabres have also hit the skids of late. As a result, their lead in the Northeast is down to a single point over the Senators, who will also be in action Tuesday.

Team Scope:

Marco Sturm scored twice, but it was a pair of rookies who stood front and center in ending Boston's longest losing streak in over 80 years. Tuukka Rask turned aside all 36 shots he faced and defenseman Adam McQuaid scored the opening goal of the game -- his first in the NHL -- to pace a 3-0 win over the Canadiens that kept the Bruins from tying an 11-game run of futility set by the 1924-25 club.

"Obviously to score tonight and get back on the winning track, it feels good to contribute," said McQuaid, who was playing in his 12th career game. "Being able to get into a rhythm feels good."
The opening goal in Buffalo's 4-0 loss in Columbus on Saturday summed up the way things have gone for the Sabres of late -- Blue Jackets defenseman Milan Jurcina took a shot from center ice that took a funny bounce off the boards and into the crease, where backup goalie Patrick Lalime accidentally kicked it into his own net. The Sabres have lost four straight for the second time in under a month.

"We all know we have to play the system better, play smarter," forward Mike Grier said. "We're a little bit uptight; we're squeezing the sticks a little bit. Guys are thinking too much, not reacting and just playing the game … all those little things are adding up and costing us games right now."

Who's Hot: Sturm, who now leads Boston with 18 goals, has four goals and two assists in his past seven games. Marc Savard has six assists in as many games since returning from injury. Rask is just 1-1-2 in his last four starts but hasn't given up more than two goals in any of them. … Thomas Vanek has five goals and seven assists in his last 12 games for Buffalo.

Injury Report:
Bruins defenseman Johnny Boychuk was hit in the face by a puck in Saturday's game against the Canucks and will miss up to two weeks with a broken orbital bone. Defenseman Mark Stuart is on injured reserve after surgery on his left pinky finger. … Sabres forward Patrick Kaleta (bruised foot) and defenseman Steve Montador (undisclosed) are day-to-day.

Stat Pack:
Sturm also leads Boston with a plus-9 rating. … Buffalo has given up four goals or more in seven of its last eight defeats. The Sabres' lone victories in their last 10 came by 2-1 scores against the Devils and Bruins.
Puck Drop: The Bruins will now look to put a winning streak together, as their 10-game drought dropped them to ninth in the Eastern Conference. Rask is making a bid for more playing time with his performance of late.

"It's helpful to get games and try to put a little consistency in your games," Rask said. "I play when they tell me to play and I try to win."

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