The Boston Bruins could use a boost on offense to help them hold off teams like the Buffalo Sabres in the Eastern Conference playoff race.
Having Glen Murray back on the ice would certainly help.
|Glen Murray (27) is expected to return tonight after missing 19 games with a hip flexor. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
With the veteran forward possibly set to return from a nearly seven-week absence, the Bruins look to avoid a second straight loss to the surging Sabres on Friday night.
Boston (27-21-5) has scored a total of just three goals while losing two straight for the first time since Jan. 8-10. The Bruins fell 4-2 to the Sabres (25-21-7) on Tuesday, and lead Buffalo by just two points for eighth and final playoff spot in the East.
Poor power-play execution hasn't helped either. Boston is 0-for-11 with the man advantage in its last three games, including three chances on Tuesday. P.J. Axelsson scored for the Bruins midway through the first period to tie it at 1, but that was all the scoring for Boston until Glen Metropolit's tally with one second to play in the game.
Murray, who has missed 19 straight games with a hip flexor, has been practicing and seems healthy, according to Boston's official Web site.
"We're waiting to see how it goes," said Murray, when asked if he might play Friday. "I've skated hard for three days, I think. And it's been fairly good."
Murray has 10 goals, including four on the power play, and 19 points in 34 games.
Regardless of when Murray returns, the Bruins believe it's only a matter of time before they solve their offensive woes.
|Ryan Miller is 5-0-0 in his last six games and 7-1-1 at home versus Boston. (AP Photo/Mary Schwalm)
"Usually they come in bunches," said Chuck Kobasew, who leads Boston with 19 goals. "If you haven't scored in a while and you get one, a lot of times you will score two. It's a confidence thing."
Not only are the Bruins struggling to find the back of the net, they aren't getting steady play in goal either. All-Star Tim Thomas has allowed seven goals in his last two games after yielding one in four of his previous five contests.
Thomas has started all four of Boston's games against Buffalo this season, going 2-1-1 with a 2.43 goals-against average.
Daniel Paille scored twice, and Thomas Vanek broke a second-period tie for the Sabres on Tuesday. Buffalo followed that up with a 3-2 shootout win over New Jersey the next day for its fifth victory in six games.
"We want to catch these guys," Sabres defenseman Henrik Tallinder said of the Bruins. "It's a really important game for us. We want to come out with a lot of energy and make sure we stay on our toes."
Ryan Miller's outstanding play has played a big role in Buffalo's recent surge. He is 5-0-0 with a 1.57 GAA in his last six games, and is 7-1-1 with a 2.30 GAA in nine career home games versus Boston.
The Sabres will play three of their next four at HSBC Arena, where they are 13-8-2.
Boston and Buffalo have each won two games in regulation against each other after the Bruins won the teams' first meeting this season, 4-3 in overtime on Nov. 1.