After a dreadful start, the Boston Bruins are happy to have climbed back to .500.
Although on a much smaller scale, the Buffalo Sabres have also put their own difficult stretch behind them.
Both teams will be seeking a fifth straight victory Saturday night when the Northeast Division rivals meet at TD Garden.
Boston (7-7-0) has rebounded in a big way after a slow start. Following a three-game losing streak in which the team was outscored 10-5, the Bruins have won four in a row by a combined 24-8 score, including a 6-3 win over Edmonton on Thursday to get back to .500 for the first time since they were 1-1-0.
They are still tied with Montreal for the fewest points in the division, but the improved play gives reason for optimism. Two of the victories during the winning streak have come against Northeast rivals.
"We've started to build that confidence. We are playing better as a five-man unit and supporting each other all over the ice," said Milan Lucic, who has goals in a career-high five straight games. "We've learned a lot from the things we have gone through in the past and we don't get down anymore."
Lucic isn't the only player performing better. Brad Marchand, who scored twice Thursday, has a four-game point streak, while Tyler Seguin has five goals in the last three games and a five-game point streak.
The Bruins will try to pick up another two points against a division rival Saturday. However, the Sabres (10-5-0) have been just as hot, rolling to a 5-1 victory over Ottawa on Friday for their fourth consecutive win.
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"We played a lot smarter game than we have in our last three or four," said coach Lindy Ruff, whose team had lost four of five before the winning streak. "Maybe as well played a night defensively by our six guys back there ... a consistent effort."
With his team playing on back-to-back nights, Ryan Miller could find himself back in net Saturday. Miller's inconsistent season continued against Winnipeg on Tuesday, when he gave up five goals on 31 shots before holding on in a 6-5 overtime win.
Miller, who was pulled less than 7 minutes into a 3-2 loss against Philadelphia on Nov. 2, was 0-4-0 with a 3.91 GAA in his previous four starts before beating the Jets.
"I have to remind myself that things aren't going to be perfect all the time and things aren't going to go my way all the time," Miller said. "I just have to battle through it."
While it will be a tough task to slow the surging Bruins, Miller has won his last four starts against them with a 3.15 GAA. The last two victories have come in Boston, where he's allowed five goals.
Thanks in part to Miller's play in net, the Sabres went 4-1-1 against the Bruins last season. Drew Stafford, who had a career high-tying three assists Friday, scored a team-high seven goals in the 2010-11 season series.
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