GAME: Buffalo Sabres (17-20-5-1) at Boston Bruins (18-11-10-4).
TIME: Monday, 7 p.m. EST.
Andrew Raycroft, re-emerging as a No. 1 goaltender, tries to lead the Boston
Bruins to their fourth straight win as they host the Buffalo Sabres.
With an 0-5-3 record and 2.80 goals-against average in his final eight
starts of 2003, Raycroft was benched in favor of Felix Potvin for Boston's
first two games of 2004.
It now appears Raycroft will not be giving up the top netminder's role very
easily. He's been in net for each of the Bruins' last three contests and has
won them all, stopping 94 of 96 shots.
The win streak includes two victories over the Detroit Red Wings, owners of
the league's best record. Raycroft made 27 saves Saturday and Joe Thornton
scored in overtime as Boston beat Detroit 2-1.
"This goes to show you how good of a team we are in here, what kind of team
we have. When we play with focus, and we come out and play hard we can compete
with anybody," Raycroft said.
Boston has gone 4-0-1 this month to match its longest unbeaten streak of the
An improving penalty-killing unit has played a big role in the Bruins'
resurgence. Boston has given up just two goals in its last 57 short-handed
Boston is up to 23rd in the NHL in penalty killing after ranking
second-to-last in mid-December.
"We've put a lot of work into (our penalty kill) from Day 1, and as a group
I think they are really starting to understand what we are trying accomplish,"
Boston coach Mike Sullivan said.
The Sabres scored all of their goals on the power play Friday, ending
Ottawa's 11-game unbeaten streak with a 3-2 victory. Buffalo wasted a 2-0 lead
in the third period, but Rory Fitzpatrick atoned for three earlier penalties by
scoring the winner with 2:47 to play.
"It's a little disturbing that we blew a two-goal lead with six minutes to
go," said Daniel Briere, who had a goal and an assist. "But at the same time,
it's great that we showed a lot of character and we came back and found a way
to win the game."
Buffalo has lost twice in its last 10 games (5-2-3), giving up an average of
just 1.8 goals.