Boston (19-11-4) at Buffalo (18-21-1)

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  • Game info: 7:00 pm EST Thu Jan 15, 2004
Preview | Box Score | Recap

All it took was a turn of the calendar for the Boston Bruins to heat up.

Boston tries to extend a season-high six-game unbeaten streak when it faces the Buffalo Sabres for the second time in four days.

After winning just three of 15 games in December (3-7-5) for 11 points, the Bruins have already matched that total with a 5-0-1 record in January with nine games still remaining this month. The six-game streak is Boston’s longest since an eight-game run from Oct. 14-30, 2002.

On Monday, in the first of six meetings against the Sabres this season, rookie Patrice Bergeron scored twice to help the Bruins rally for their fourth straight win, 4-3.

Captain Joe Thornton and Sergei Samsonov each had a goal and an assist for Boston, which held Buffalo scoreless on four power-play opportunities. The Bruins have killed of 59 of their last 61 short-handed situations.

These teams meet again at the FleetCenter on Jan. 22.

“As a coach, you challenge your players to win every series,” Boston coach Mike Sullivan said. “To win the first game of the season-long series is a good sign for our team. Obviously, in three days, we’ve got to go to their building, and that game is going to be a lot more difficult.”

Thornton and Bergeron have been two of the biggest contributors during Boston’s resurgence.

Thornton has three goals and four assists during the six-game streak while Bergeron has five goals in that span.

“We rely on Joe a lot, and in a lot of situations,” Sullivan said. “If we’re going to be successful, Joe is going to have to be on the score sheet on most nights. I think he’s starting to shoot the puck more, he’s getting into scoring areas more.”

Buffalo rebounded from Monday’s loss by scoring five unanswered goals in a 6-2 victory over struggling Philadelphia on Tuesday.

Curtis Brown scored twice and Chris Drury added a goal and an assist for the Sabres, who have earned points in nine of 12 games following a seven-game losing streak.

“We were a disgruntled bunch,” Brown said. “I didn’t get much sleep preparing for (Philadelphia). It was a tough one to swallow, but it’s huge to be able to come back the next night and get things done.”

Mika Noronen stopped 35 of 37 shots in his first appearance since a groin injury on Dec. 29 landed him on injured reserve. Noronen has allowed two goals or fewer in six consecutive starts.

STANDINGS (through Jan. 13): Bruins - 52 points, 3rd place, 7 PB, Northeast Division. Sabres - 42 points, 5th place, 17 PB, Northeast Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Bruins - Mike Knuble and Bergeron, 13 goals; Thornton, 31 assists and 41 points; Sean O’Donnell, 62 PIM. Sabres - Daniel Briere and Miroslav Satan, 15 goals; Drury, 19 assists; Briere, 31 points; Andrew Peters, 93 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS (through Jan. 13): Bruins - Power play: 15.9 percent (26 for 164), 12th in NHL. Penalty killing: 82.9 percent (141 for 170), 23rd. Sabres - Power play: 13.9 percent (27 for 194), 23rd. Penalty killing: 85.3 percent (168 for 197), 13th.

GOALTENDERS: Bruins - Andrew Raycroft (13-10-6, 2 SO, 2.04 GAA); Felix Potvin (6-5-4, 2, 2.82). Sabres - Martin Biron (9-10-4, 2.63); Noronen (9-9-1, 2, 2.04).

SEASON SERIES: Bruins, 1-0.

LAST MEETING: Jan. 12; Bruins, 4-3. At Boston, Brian Rolston set up two goals and Samsonov snapped a tie with 7:12 left in regulation to help rally the Bruins.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Bruins - 11-5-3-3 on the road; Sabres - 11-8-3-1 at home.

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