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Numbers show Sabres are tough foe for Bruins

by John Kreiser

The Buffalo Sabres and Boston Bruins head into their Wednesday Night Rivalry game (7:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN/TSN2) have different reasons for needing the two points from their final meeting of the regular season.

The Sabres still have faint hopes of making the Stanley Cup Playoffs after beating the Philadelphia Flyers and Tampa Bay Lightning over the weekend -- but they'll likely have to run the table in their final five games to have a chance. The Bruins will be taking the ice for the first time since the Boston Marathon tragedy on Monday as they battle the Montreal Canadiens for place in the Northeast Division.

Here's a statistical look at intense Northeast Division rivals:

Playing them tough: The Bruins and Sabres may be at opposite ends of the Eastern Conference standings, but Buffalo has managed a split of their four games this season. The Sabres are one of only three teams to beat the Bruins in regulation at TD Garden this season; they got five points from Thomas Vanek to rally for a 7-4 victory on Jan. 31 in their only previous trip to Boston.

Put away the brooms: Regardless of the outcome, one streak will continue: The Sabres will continue to be the only team the Bruins have never swept in a season series. The Bruins have won 122 of the previous 267 regular-season meetings, while the Sabres have 116 wins and 29 games ended in ties. But the Sabres have outscored the Bruins 865-861 in those games, making them one of only four teams to have more goals than Boston in their all-time history.

Eye on the prize: A victory will assure the Bruins that they'll be playing hockey in May -- they can become the fifth team to assure itself of a playoff berth. It would be the sixth consecutive year they've qualified for the postseason and the 68th time in franchise history.

Working overtime: The Sabres and Bruins have gone past regulation 19 times since the NHL began giving points to both teams when games are tied after 60 minutes. That includes nine games that were decided in overtime and 10 that went to shootouts. The Sabres have had the better of the nine games decided in OT, winning five -- but the Bruins are 6-4 in the 10 contests decided in a tiebreaker, including a 2-1 mark in three shootouts last season.

Power outage: Don't expect a lot of power-play goals in this one. The Sabres enter Wednesday with the worst power-play success rate in the NHL at 12.1 percent, while the Bruins' 16 power-play goals are the fewest of any team in the NHL, as is their 11.3 success rate at home. Buffalo is 1-for-13 against Boston this season; the Bruins are 2-for-11 against the Sabres. However, don't be surprised if there's a shorthanded tally -- the Bruins are tied for third in the League with five shorties, while the seven allowed by the Sabres are the most in the NHL.

Problems hanging on: Though they've been among the NHL's elite teams all season, the Bruins are No. 1 in a surprising category -- they've lost a League-high four times in regulation when taking a lead into the third period. And that doesn't count the Sabres' previous visit to TD Garden, when Boston scored early in the third period to take a 4-3 lead, then allowed four unanswered goals in a 7-4 loss that represents the most scored by Buffalo and allowed by the Bruins in one game this season. The Bruins have also lost four of the 18 games in which they've taken a two-goal lead; that 7-4 loss is one of the two regulation defeats.

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