BOSTON - Looking for their fifth win in six games, the Buffalo Sabres are in Boston tonight to take on the Bruins. The Sabres are coming off a 2-1 win in Ottawa on Saturday, where they played a dominant third period and were backstopped by the great play of Robin Lehner in net.
Video: PREVIEW: BUF @ BOS (11/7/16)
Boston lost to the Rangers 5-2 on Saturday, giving up two shorthanded goals while going 0-for-3 on the man advantage. While their power play currently ranks 29th in the NHL at 7.9 percent, the Sabres know the Bruins have the potential to be dangerous.
"I see the top line with [Brad] Marchand and [David] Pastrnak carrying the bulk of the load. They're getting the points," Sabres coach Dan Bylsma said.
Marchand has four goals and nine assists this year whole Pastrnak has seven goals and 10 points. No other player on the Bruins roster has more than four points.
"I see a power-play unit that is very dangerous, but isn't showing it, at least numbers-wise so far," Bylsma continued. "When you look at them, that's one area where it's going to be key in the game tonight. It's a dangerous group, it's a good group. They have a good power play. They just haven't been there yet."
The Sabres have points in their last four road games against the Bruins (2-0-2), dating back to Dec. 21, 2014. It's the first time the team has had points in four straight visits to Boston since they had points in five straight from Oct. 21, 2006 to Nov. 1, 2007 (3-0-2). They're currently in the third of a four-game stretch against divisional opponents, so earning points is especially important now.
The TOPS Gamenight pregame show starts at 6:30 p.m. on MSG with Brian Duff and Brad May setting you up for tonight's action from TD Garden. Then Dan Dunleavy and Rob Ray have the call just after 7. The game can also be heard on ESPN 1520.
26 Matt Moulson - 90 Ryan O'Reilly - 21 Kyle Okposo
82 Marcus Foligno - 22 Johan Larsson - 12 Brian Gionta
63 Tyler Ennis - 28 Zemgus Girgensons - 23 Sam Reinhart
48 William Carrier - 27 Derek Grant - 73 Nicholas Baptiste
4 Josh Gorges - 55 Rasmus Ristolainen
77 Dmitry Kulikov - 34 Casey Nelson
29 Jake McCabe - 6 Cody Franson
40 Robin Lehner
31 Anders Nilsson
Ennis and Kulikov were each given a maintenance day yesterday, but were on the ice for the optional morning skate today.
They were still skating when Bylsma addressed the media so he did not have an update on their availability, but since the Sabres have not called anyone up from Rochester yet, it's a safe bet that both Ennis and Kulikov will be in the lineup tonight.
Video: BYLSMA: Pregame Interview
"We're actually quite banged up. They guys that are playing are dealing with some bumps and bruises," Bylsma said. "We need some practice time. We got it yesterday and this team has done well taking the morning skate as a time to stay off the ice and get ready to play the match tonight."
Lehner will make his fifth-straight start in net. Over the last four games, he's 3-1-0 with a .961 save percentage and a 1.26 goals-against average. He's set to go up against Tuukka Rask.
Rewarded for their efforts
Over the last few games, Bylsma has tweaked his lines to try and give the lineup a little more jump. On the top line in particular, he's tried a few different players with O'Reilly and Okposo.
Against Toronto on Thursday, Baptiste earned a few shifts on that line. On Saturday, Foligno played with them to open the third period and it resulted in a quick game-tying goal.
"We need guys to step up, especially with the guys we have out," Foligno said (the team is currently without forwards Jack Eichel, Evander Kane, Hudson Fasching and Nicolas Deslauriers due to injuries) "For myself, you want to be put in situations like that. Just like Baptiste, he's a fast, skilled guy. I think we're just trying to see what we can get - down 1-0 - trying to spark something."
They're hoping to replicate the success of that third period right away against Boston.
"Minus the penalty kill, which was very good and part of that third period, that was our best hockey of the year playing in the offensive zone, dominating in the grind time in the offensive zone," Bylsma said. "And that's where we have to try to start the match tonight."
Reinhart scored his second goal of the season on Saturday and he hopes it's a sign of things to come.
His line with Girgensons and Ennis has been generating a lot of chances, maybe none more than Thursday against Toronto, but they haven't been able to consistently light the lamp yet.
"The chances have been there and that's the biggest part," Reinhart said. "I think the key is to not get too frustrated. With the amount of chances I've been having, and obviously with Enzo and Gussy - playing with them - we've been creating a lot so hopefully that sparks us a little bit."
If they're going to break out, they couldn't pick a better opponent than the one they're facing tonight.
Ennis has four points (1+3) in his last four games against Boston and Reinhart has scored in each of his last two games against the Bruins.
It was 30 years ago today…
On this day back in 1986, Gilbert Perreault scored the final two goals of his NHL career in a 7-6 loss against Vancouver. Perreault's 512 goals as a member of the Sabres still stand as the franchise record, 130 more than the next closest player (Rick Martin with 382).
#WonBuffalo times two?
As mentioned in today's Sharpen Up, the Sabres and Bills haven't won on the same date twice in the same season since Nov. 5 and Nov. 26, 2006.
The Bills are in Seattle tonight for Monday Night Football and Bylsma didn't remember his only game played in the Emerald City too fondly.
"I played hockey there. I played there once," he said. "It was a preseason game. The ice was bad."