Boston (24-22-11) at Buffalo (32-18-7)

Partly Cloudy Currently: Buffalo, NY
Temp: 49° F
  • Game info: 7:00 pm EST Tue Feb 9, 2010
  • TV: NESN, MSG
Preview | Box Score | Recap

The Buffalo Sabres helped extend the Boston Bruins’ lengthy losing streak last month, but the Bruins finally snapped their 10-game skid with a shutout victory in their most recent game.

Now, they’ll have a chance to return the favor in Buffalo.

The Sabres have lost four straight since beating Boston, and they may concede the Northeast Division lead if they can’t avoid their longest slide of the season on Tuesday night.

Buffalo’s 2-1 home win on Jan. 29 was the Bruins’ sixth straight loss, and Boston eventually stumbled to the second-longest losing streak in franchise history.

Another defeat Sunday would have matched the club record, but the Bruins (24-22-11) finally responded with a 3-0 win at Montreal as they began a four-game road trip leading up to the Olympic break.

“Losing streaks are because of shootouts, otherwise we’d be talking about a couple ties here and there, but it is what it is,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said. “We had played so well in the last four or five games, and felt cheated in a way that we played well enough to win but weren’t getting rewarded.

“It’s a matter of sticking with it, and you hope that at one point you’re going to get a break and things are going to turn for you.”

That happened for the Bruins against the Canadiens, with major contributions coming from a pair of rookies. Defenseman Adam McQuaid(notes) scored his first NHL goal for the game-winner and goalie Tuukka Rask(notes) continued his impressive play in his third straight start, making 36 saves for his third shutout of the season.

Rask, who ranks second in the NHL with a 2.02 goals-against average, is taking minutes from reigning Vezina Trophy winner Tim Thomas(notes), a member of the U.S. Olympic team.

“Everybody knows he’s a good goaltender. He’s proven it over and over again,” Julien said of Thomas. “Right now I don’t think his game is where it was when he was at his best.”

Thomas will likely serve as a backup to Buffalo’s Ryan Miller(notes) at the upcoming Vancouver Olympics, but Miller has struggled since stopping 30 shots in the win over the Bruins. He allowed 12 goals while losing the first three games of the Sabres’ skid.

Backup Patrick Lalime(notes) didn’t fare any better during Saturday night’s 4-0 loss at Columbus as the Sabres (32-18-7) lost for the eighth time in their last 10 games. Their division lead has slipped to one point over Ottawa, which hosts Calgary on Tuesday.

“The message is we have to put it behind us,” Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff said. “There have been games where we have played well and lost and games where there have been a lot of breakdowns and a lot of frustration. The message is we are a better team than we are playing right now.”

The Sabres hope to be helped by a return home, where they are 18-7-5 and have not lost three straight all season. They were 9-0-3 in their previous 12 home games before regulation losses to Ottawa and Carolina last week.

“We don’t want to go into this long break second-guessing everything and worrying about our game,” Sabres right wing Mike Grier(notes) told the team’s official Web site. “We’ve got three games to try and build our lead in the division a little bit and have everyone go on the break feeling good and upbeat.”

The Bruins hope to have David Krejci(notes) available after the Czech center was injured against the Canadiens.

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Tuesday, Feb 9