It had been more than two months since a Boston Bruins home loss before Saturday, when their longest overall winning streak in more than 35 years also came to an end.
With four games left in a six-game homestand, the Bruins are already thinking about starting a new string of victories.
Boston will try to avoid its first consecutive defeats since October on Tuesday against the Minnesota Wild, who recently snapped a month-long road losing streak.
The Eastern Conference-leading Bruins (29-6-4) had won 10 straight overall and 14 in a row at home entering Saturday’s matinee against Buffalo, but they quickly found themselves down two goals and never recovered in a 4-2 loss.
Riding their longest winning streak since 1972-73 season, the Bruins’ offense finally ran dry against the Sabres. The NHL leaders with 3.62 goals per game overall, Boston had scored at least three goals in each of the 14 straight wins at home, but failed to capitalize on its opportunities versus Buffalo.
Coach Claude Julien’s club is still 14-2-1 at home, with games against Ottawa, Carolina and Montreal remaining on the homestand.
“We have to put (the loss) behind us and focus on the next game,” captain Zdeno Chara told the Bruins’ official Web site. “We know teams are going to be playing us hard. We just have to make sure we don’t get too down.”
That hasn’t been a problem so far this season, as the Bruins have followed each of their last five losses with victories. They haven’t dropped consecutive games since a three-game slide Oct. 20-23, going 27-4-1 since.
“Good teams don’t lose two in a row,” forward Milan Lucic said. “… We should be hungry to start a new streak.”
Strong defense has also spurred the Bruins, who boast an NHL-low 2.15 team goals-against average. After Tim Thomas saw his seven-start winning streak snapped against Buffalo, Manny Fernandez could be in net Tuesday to face his former team for the second time.
Fernandez, who is 9-0-0 at home and second in the league with a 2.02 GAA, played in Minnesota from 2000-07, helping the Wild to the league’s best GAA in 2006-07. He faced Minnesota for the first time in his first start of this season, allowing all of the Wild’s goals in Boston’s 4-3 road loss.
Minnesota (19-16-3) has remained one of the league’s best defensive teams, ranking second behind the Bruins with a 2.26 team GAA. With sniper Marian Gaborik out for most of the season, though, the Wild have struggled offensively, going 4-8-2 and averaging fewer than two goals per game over the past month.
That stretch included a six-game losing streak on the road. The Wild ended that skid Sunday with a 2-0 win at Colorado to open this four-game trip.
Owen Nolan scored twice and Niklas Backstrom made 33 saves for his fourth shutout of the season. Backstrom certainly hasn’t been to blame for the Wild’s recent funk, as he has a 1.90 GAA in his last 11 starts.
“I felt pretty good,” Backstrom said Saturday. “The guys helped me out there.”
Backstrom made 29 saves in his only visit to Boston, a 2-1 Minnesota win on March 8, 2007. The Wild have never lost at TD Banknorth Garden, winning all four visits as part of their 7-1-0 record all-time against the Bruins, who have scored 13 total goals in the series.
Nolan has four goals in his last three games overall.