Buffalo, NY (WGR 550) -- The Sabres have a huge opportunity staring them in the face. Boston holds the final Atlantic Division playoff spot with 40 points. Buffalo is six back, but have this home and home series coming up tonight and Saturday.
If the Sabres can get two regulation wins, they’ll pull to within two of Boston and have three games in hand.
Buffalo came out of the break and broke a four game losing streak winning in Detroit 4-3. Evander Kane scored two goals giving him eight goals in 11 games.
Rasmus Ristolainen picked up an assist and now has 15 points in 13 games.
Sam Reinhart has points in four straight games. He picked up his first two tip-in goals of the season to go with three assists in that stretch.
Robin Lehner gets the call in net coming off a 40 save performance against Detroit. Lehner and the rest of the NHL had been off the ice for three days due to the holiday break. He said it’s not a problem at all having a break and then jumping right back into games, “I think we overthink that a little bit, I think we’ve been on the ice for many months every day pretty much. It’s been a couple of thousand pucks this year, so three days is not going to do anything bad. I wish it could’ve been five.”
Lehner and Anders Nilsson both have goals against averages of 2.47. That has dropped them down to 12th in league goals against average. The team save percentage of .920 has them in 6th place.
Lehner took a stick in the neck during the Detroit game and had severe swelling that kept him off the ice Wednesday. His neck was back to normal this morning.
Dmitry Kulikov has missed 14 games this year due to a bruised tailbone and back. Kulikov had returned for eight games, but will miss tonight with same injury.
Cody Franson has missed three games with a sore groin, but he’s ready to return.
Boston has just one win in four games and three victories in 11.
Tuukka Rask has been very inconsistent in his last nine games. He gave up three to Florida, four to Washington, three to Toronto, one to Montreal, four to Pittsburgh, none to Los Angeles, three to the Islanders in just 26:18 of work, one to Florida and four to Columbus.
Rask’s overall numbers are still fantastic, 17-7-3 with a 1.95 goals against and .927 save percentage.
The specials teams in this game are completely opposites. Boston has the league’s third best penalty kill while Buffalo is dead last at 30th.
Buffalo has the NHL’s fourth best power play while Boston is 29th. The Bruins are 3-for-10 on the power play against Buffalo. The Sabres are 0-for-6 on the PP against Boston.
Join the Bulldog for the pregame live from 716 starting at 6:00. He’ll be joined by Dan Bylsma, Robin Lehner and Zach Bogosian.