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Sabres seeking first division win as Bruins visit

by Tal Pinchevsky /

BRUINS (5-2-0) at SABRES (1-8-1)


Season series: This is the first of five meetings this season between the Boston Bruins and Buffalo Sabres, two longtime division rivals who are now adversaries in the new Atlantic Division. While these teams are off to very different starts in 2013-14, they've always played each other close no matter the circumstances. Buffalo took last season's series 3-2-0 and holds an 11-7-5 edge since the 2009-10 season.

Big story: The Bruins and Sabres found themselves in two very different situations entering this season. Boston came within two wins of winning the Stanley Cup before refashioning its roster and arguably making it better. Buffalo finished 12th in the Eastern Conference and is now rebuilding the franchise around a bumper crop of prospects. Those different directions are reflected in their early-season performance as the Bruins have won three of their past four games and Buffalo lost its first seven games and still has yet to win in regulation or overtime.

Team Scope:

Bruins: An early-season favorite to make another long playoff run, Boston has remained consistent in the early parts of the season. On Saturday they faced the Tampa Bay Lightning in a rematch of their season-opening win.

The Bruins may have executed their best team performance of the young season in a 5-0 victory. David Krejci opened the scoring with his first goal of the season 92 seconds into the game and 12 players collected a point as Boston limited Tampa Bay to 23 shots while scoring five goals on just 22 shots.

"We had a good start, obviously, but we scored the goals the way we wanted to score them," coach Claude Julien said. "Offensively it was nice to score some goals. I thought the pace and the tempo of our game was good tonight too. We were moving the puck quickly and we skated from start to finish."

Sabres: The Sabres made no secret of the fact that they were rebuilding entering this season, but despite their record, the team has been tough against division rivals. In three games, they are 0-2-1 within the division but have lost each game by a single goal.

They faced off against one of the League's top teams, the Colorado Avalanche, on Saturday night. Outshot 14-3 in the first period, the Sabres allowed opening-period goals to Ryan O'Reilly and Gabriel Landeskog and quickly found themselves in a hole.

But they found their form in the final 40 minutes, outshooting the Avalanche 27-12 in the final two periods and getting goals from Cody Hodgson and Marcus Foligno in a 4-2 loss. The Sabres especially carried the play in the third, outshooting Colorado 16-4.

"I think we came on strong in the second and third," Hodgson said. "We started playing with the puck more and started making some real positive things happen. We know we can play. It's not a question of that. It's not putting ourselves behind the eight-ball right away."

Who's hot: Krejci and Reilly Smith are enjoying four-game point streaks for Boston, during which they have a goal and three assists. Tuukka Rask has allowed one goal or fewer in five of seven games and boasts a 1.29 goals-against average. … Foligno has two goals in his past three games.

Injury report: The Bruins report no injuries. … For the Sabres, forwards Ville Leino (ribs), Corey Tropp (jaw) and Cody McCormick (lower body) are out while forward Patrick Kaleta is serving a suspension for a hit on defenseman Jack Johnson of the Columbus Blue Jackets.

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