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Even the defending Eastern Conference champions couldn't slow down the streaking Boston Bruins, who've looked like a well-oiled machine while scoring more goals and allowing fewer than any other NHL team.
The Buffalo Sabres are the next team in their way, as the league-leading Bruins seek an 11th straight win overall and a 15th straight at the TD Banknorth Garden in Saturday's matinee.
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Not only has Boston matched its longest winning streak since a 13-game run during the 1970-71 season, but the Bruins (29-5-4) have won nine of the 10 games by at least two goals, outscoring opponents 46-22 over that span.
Even more impressive are the numbers from their 14-game home winning streak - their longest since a 16-game run in 1975-76. They've scored 71 goals and allowed just 32 since their last home loss, a 4-2 defeat against Toronto on Oct. 23.
"It is unbelievable to do what we are doing," Boston goalie Manny Fernandez said. "Looking at those numbers kinds of scares me. ... You don't want to be the one to drop the ball."
Fernandez didn't do that on Thursday, making 30 saves and improving to 9-0-0 at home as the Bruins completed a home-and-home sweep of Pittsburgh with a 4-2 win. The Penguins advanced to the Stanley Cup finals last spring.
Coach Claude Julien's club held Pittsburgh stars Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin without a goal in the two games, scoring nine themselves and passing San Jose for the NHL lead with 62 points.
"They preach in this locker room that the season is a marathon and not a sprint," defenseman Aaron Ward said. "They talk about capitalizing on the highs and that is what we are doing."
With their next five games at home, including three against teams currently outside of playoff position, the Bruins hope to keep riding that wave.
Buffalo (18-15-5) is one of just two teams to beat the Bruins in regulation in the last two months, winning 3-2 at home on Nov. 26 behind two goals from Derek Roy. But the Sabres are 0-2-0 in Boston this season, including an ugly 7-4 loss on Nov. 19.
The Sabres had dropped four of their last five games in 2008, but they rebounded with a 4-1 win at Toronto on Thursday, as Roy and Jason Pominville each scored twice. The duo had combined for one goal and one assist in the previous four games.
"We need (Pominville). We need (Roy)," Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff said. "... There's no secret. We need them to be our best players."
The Sabres were sharp on special teams, going 2-for-4 on the power play and killing all five of the Maple Leafs' chances on the man advantage. Buffalo has scored a power-play goal in seven straight games, going 9-for-30 (30.0 percent) over that span.
That will likely be tougher against the Bruins, who've killed off 22 consecutive penalties over their last five games.
Boston's standout goaltending tandem has certainly helped that unit, although it's unclear who will be in net Saturday. While it appears to be Tim Thomas' turn, Fernandez is 5-0-1 in his career against the Sabres, backstopping the Bruins to both of their wins over Buffalo this season.
Thomas has won seven straight starts overall, but he's lost three straight to the Sabres and has a 3.08 career goals-against average versus Buffalo.
Sabres goalie Ryan Miller, meanwhile, is 13-5-4 with a 2.71 GAA against the Bruins.
This game will feature two of the NHL's top four goal-scorers. Buffalo's Thomas Vanek (25 goals) and Boston's Phil Kessel (23) also both starred at the University of Minnesota.
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