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Sabres seek 2-0 edge over Bruins on home ice

by John McGourty

(Buffalo leads best-of-seven series, 1-0)
Big story:
The Sabres won the all-important first game at home. The Bruins will have only three home games, so they must win at least one game in Buffalo. Game 1 was almost as if the teams played to the script: Low scoring, great goalie play, tight neutral-zone play, great penalty killing and scattered scraps. Expect more of the same as both teams are built to play that way.

Team scope:
Bruins: The Bruins are playing without two important defensemen, Dennis Seidenberg and Mark Stuart. Veteran Andrew Ference has a groin problem that will require postseason surgery. He played 13:33 minutes in Thursday's Game 1, way down from his season average of 19:42. Johnny Boychuk is handling a big workload (24:49 Thursday) and Adam McQuaid was effective in 7:36 of ice time Thursday. The Bruins were the lowest-scoring team in the NHL this past season and looked it Thursday when they scored only one goal during a 24-shot barrage during the second period. As coach Claude Julien said, they didn't lack opportunities, just goals. The team worked hard on shooting skills during Friday's practice.

Sabres: The Sabres played their type of game Thursday, except during the middle of the second period when, according to coach Lindy Ruff, they started running around after the puck. Some observers made the point that Buffalo outhit Boston, 41-25, but you don't throw checks when you're carrying the puck. Goalie Ryan Miller said he had good looks at Boston's first shots, a credit to his defense that blocked out Boston players who were trying to screen him.
Who's hot: Buffalo's Thomas Vanek, who scored the first goal of the series Thursday, missed six games with a lower-body injury, then returned with four goals against Ottawa, a goal against the Devils and a goal against Boston in Game 1. Miller has allowed only five goals in his last three games, all wins. … Boston's Mark Recchi, who had the team's only goal in Game 1, has two goals and an assist in his last four games. Bruins center David Krejci has 12 points in 12 games. Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask is 4-2-1 in his last seven games.
Injury report: Buffalo's Jochen Hecht will miss the series after pinkie finger surgery earlier this week. …  Stuart will also miss the series for Boston after finger surgery.  Seidenberg is out for the year after arm-tendon surgery. Marc Savard is out for the season with a head injury.
Stat pack: Boston blocked 16 shots, Buffalo 14. Boston took 39 shots, Buffalo 32. But Boston took only six third-period shots and failed to score. Buffalo has now won 31-straight games when leading after two periods, best in the NHL. The Bruins won 56 percent of the faceoffs. The Bruins were the 11th-best team at avoiding penalties, averaging only 11.6 minutes per game. They took nine minor penalties Thursday, or 18 minutes. They have to avoid retaliation penalties.
Puck drop:
"My favorite part of this is watching the game film and catching the clips of the Party in the Plaza and the fans in the stands and the excitement that goes with it. That's the great part about it. That's what you play the whole year for. The fans, they come to the building the whole year to see you get in the playoffs, and they're going to enjoy that at the same time, too," said Sabres coach Lindy Ruff.

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