The Boston Bruins won’t have to worry about their struggles in Buffalo during the postseason, but a win there will be necessary to have any chance at the Presidents’ Trophy.
With two games remaining, the Bruins look to snap a three-game road losing streak to a Sabres team which was recently eliminated from playoff contention.
Boston (52-18-10) has wrapped up the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference and appears to be going into the playoffs with plenty of momentum, having won seven of eight while holding opponents to 2.3 goals per game.
The only thing left for the Bruins to potentially accomplish during the regular season is capturing their first Presidents’ Trophy since 1989-90 and home-ice advantage throughout the playoffs. For that to happen, San Jose must lose Saturday afternoon in Los Angeles while Boston wins its final two games.
The Bruins stayed alive in that race Thursday, beating Montreal 5-4 in overtime before the Sharks lost to Phoenix later in the night.
Mark Recchi scored once in regulation and then 2:42 into overtime while also adding two assists. Tim Thomas stopped 39 shots to record his fifth straight win despite giving up three consecutive power-play goals in the third period following Boston penalties for retaliation or roughing.
“When we do lose our cool and let our emotions get the best of us, we let them get those goals and grab the lead,” Bruins forward Milan Lucic said.
Before closing the season Sunday on the road against the New York Islanders, the Bruins look to get their first win in three visits to Buffalo this season. They’ve lost three straight and 11 of 14 there, getting outscored 21-5 on the power play.
Despite being out of the playoff chase, the Sabres (40-32-9) join Southeast Division champion Washington as the only teams to beat Boston three times this season. Buffalo has a 3-2-0 lead in the season series, holding the high-scoring Bruins to two goals in each victory.
Plus, the Sabres have played well recently with wins in six of their last nine, including two straight.
Buffalo is coming off a 5-1 victory over Carolina on Thursday - a game that ended just before the New York Rangers’ 2-1 win over Philadelphia eliminated the Sabres from postseason contention.
Ryan Miller lost his shutout bid with 28 seconds remaining but said missing out on that “wasn’t as disappointing as losing the whole season in five minutes.”
Jason Pominville scored twice as Buffalo snapped Carolina’s nine-game winning streak.
“You get (the opportunities), and I think that makes a difference,” Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said. “We’ve had those opportunities in the past, and haven’t cashed in. But you get them, and you get them on the road, and you get a team down. We got the bounces tonight.”
Miller is 14-5-4 with a 2.68 goals-against average versus Boston, including 10-1-2 with a 2.11 GAA at home and wins in both meetings at HSBC Arena this season.
Bruins winger Phil Kessel has a point in all five meetings with Buffalo, scoring four goals, and he’s been hot lately with six goals and two assists in his last seven games. He’s scored in the Bruins’ last two contests after missing five with an undisclosed injury.