The Sabres look to avoid their fourth straight defeat when they conclude a home-and-home series with the Bruins at HSBC Arena.
Marco Sturm scored the lone shootout goal in Boston’s 3-2 victory Monday at TD Banknorth Garden, sending Buffalo (31-11-4) to its season-high third consecutive loss. With 66 points, the Sabres still lead the Eastern Conference by a comfortable margin, but they’ve lost five of their last seven games.
This is Buffalo’s longest losing skid since dropping six in a row from March 18-25. That slide ended March 29 with a 4-3 win at home over Boston (21-18-4), the Sabres’ fourth win in as many meetings with the Bruins at HSBC last season.
The Sabres, however, have also lost a season-high three straight home games, their longest drought since dropping four straight on home ice from Oct. 26-Nov. 9, 2005.
Lack of offense has been a major reasons for Buffalo’s problems, as the Sabres have scored only two goals in each of their past four games. They went 0-for-3 on the power play Monday and are 2-for-26 (7.7 percent) with the man advantage in their last five contests.
Improving upon those number may have become tougher Tuesday, as the Sabres announced that forward Jochen Hecht was expected to miss the last three games before the All-Star break with what coach Lindy Ruff called a lower body injury.
Ruff would not disclose the nature of the injury, which the left wing sustained in the third period of Monday’s game. Hecht ranks ninth on the Sabres with 25 points—12 goals and 13 assists—in 43 games.
Without Ryan Miller’s performance, Buffalo may not have been able to even get Monday’s game to a shootout. Miller, who suffered just his second loss in eight career starts against the Bruins, stopped 35 shots to keep the Sabres in the game, including a spectacular diving stick save on Paul Mara late in the second period.
“I still don’t know how he saved it,” Boston coach Dave Lewis said. “I watched the replay. I watched it live. I don’t know how he saved it.”
Tim Thomas also had a strong game in net for the Bruins, making 34 saves and stopping all three attempts he faced in the shootout.
“Thomas made some huge saves over there as did Ryan,” said Sabres center Derek Roy, who had a goal and an assist. “We had some opportunities that would have been goals and they just took them right away. Good goaltending goes a long way.”
The Bruins improved to 9-3-0 when tied entering the third period, and ended their second three-game losing streak of the season.
Savard scored a goal for the third straight game. He has five goals and four assists in his last five contests overall, and has recorded a point in 12 of his last 13 matchups with the Sabres since the start of the 2000-01 season.
These division rivals play another home-and-home series in two weeks, with a game at Buffalo on Jan. 30 followed by a Feb. 1 meeting at Boston.