The Boston Bruins lost their last game, but they still lead the Northeast Division. They also got good news regarding the fate of their captain.
Boston (38-20-8) dropped its second straight Tuesday, falling 4-1 to Montreal as its division lead was cut to three points. The Bruins were also in danger of losing Chara for an extended period after he checked Max Pacioretty(notes) headfirst into the glass in the second period.
Pacioretty lay motionless after the hit and was taken off on a stretcher and spent the night in the hospital. The Canadiens winger suffered a severe concussion and a fractured vertebra.
“It’s very unfortunate,” Chara said. “In that situation everything’s happening fast and even planning to do that, that’s not my style to hurt somebody.”
Chara had a hearing with Mike Murphy(notes), the NHL senior vice president of hockey operations, on Wednesday. The league determined that the defenseman would not be subjected to further punishment, stating that there was no evidence to suggest he delivered the hit in a dangerous manner.
While Boston should be very happy to have its defensive anchor available, it needs to solve its problems on the power play. The Bruins, whose back-to-back defeats have followed a seven-game win streak, have gone 0 for 16 over the last seven contests.
The Sabres came into Tuesday’s matchup with Pittsburgh on a 4-0-2 roll, but lost 3-1 and fell to 3-1-1 on a team record-tying seven-game trip.
Buffalo (32-26-8), which had gone 6-0-1 in its previous seven road contests, is locked in a tight battle for one of the final two Eastern Conference playoff spots.
“Every team is desperate for wins right now and we know we’re going to be in a battle every game down the stretch,” said center Rob Niedermayer(notes), who has scored in two straight games after going 66 in a row without a goal.
Sabres leading scorer Thomas Vanek(notes) is questionable after being scratched Tuesday with the flu, but Buffalo’s top two scorers against Boston this season - Jason Pominville(notes) and Drew Stafford(notes) - should be ready to go.
Pominville has three goals and five assists in five games versus the Bruins this season, while Stafford has seven goals in the season series. He posted hat tricks in a 3-2 home win Dec. 15 and a 7-6 shootout victory Jan. 1.
Stafford was sidelined with a groin injury as Buffalo won its third straight meeting with Boston on Jan. 20, 4-2 at TD Garden.