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Only one goal was scored during the Boston Bruins' latest victory, a far cry from the offensive display they've put up during most of a nine-game winning streak that included a 6-2 rout of the Buffalo Sabres.
That result isn't the only reason the Sabres could be eager for payback Wednesday night.
Boston's Milan Lucic leveled Ryan Miller with a hit that's kept the Buffalo goaltender off the ice ever since, providing an intriguing subplot in what could be a testy rematch at First Niagara Center as the Bruins try to push their win streak to double digits.
Boston (12-7-0) scored one goal or fewer in four losses during its 3-7-0 October before putting up at least five goals in six of its eight straight wins to begin this month.
The Bruins' offensive outburst took a night off Monday in Montreal, but they still managed to extend their streak. Two days after making 23 saves in a 6-0 win over the New York Islanders, Tim Thomas stopped all 33 shots he faced - including 15 in the third period - to make Andrew Ference's first-period goal stand in a 1-0 victory.
"You've got to learn to win a whole bunch of different ways over the years and that's one of the things we did last year," said Thomas, who's started six times during the streak and posted a 1.33 goals-against average and three shutouts.
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The Stanley Cup champions have outscored their opponents 46-14 during a streak that's the franchise's longest since a 10-game run from Dec. 12, 2008 to Jan. 1, 2009.
Six of those came when the Sabres (12-8-0) visited TD Garden on Nov. 12 - all in a stretch of 22:12 in the second and third periods - but the big story came in the first. Miller skated out to the right circle to play a loose puck and was bowled over by Lucic, drawing a two-minute charging minor.
Miller stayed in until the end of the second before exiting with tightness in his neck. A day later, he was diagnosed with whiplash and a concussion.
Lucic - who Miller called "gutless" - wasn't suspended by league discipline czar Brendan Shanahan, a decision Miller said he wouldn't speak out against despite not being pleased.
Shanahan's lack of action left many to wonder what sort of retribution Buffalo might provide Wednesday, though Miller doesn't seem to agree that payback is the right course.
"Lucic's a tough guy. What are you going to do, try to hack him, spear him, cheap-shot him? Then you're no better than he is," Miller said Nov. 15. "I try to have their backs. I trust they have mine, so that's the end of that one."
The Sabres had won four straight prior to visiting Boston, but they're 2-2-0 since as backup Jhonas Enroth - who has a 6.12 GAA in three games versus the Bruins - has posted a 2.56 GAA.
Buffalo outshot Phoenix 45-29 on Saturday but lost 4-2.
"We missed too many opportunities," coach Lindy Ruff said. "Point blank. We missed empty nets. We hit a few posts. It isn't good enough."
To make matters worse, the Sabres lost Tyler Myers to a broken wrist, an injury that will keep one of their top defensemen out four to six weeks.
Thomas Vanek has a four-game goal streak against Boston that started with a 7-6 shootout victory Jan. 1 - the Bruins' last visit to Buffalo.
Boston center Tyler Seguin, who had two goals earlier this month against Buffalo to give him a team-high 11, hasn't scored in four games.
|Apr 07 '12||BUF 3 at BOS 4 - SO||P. Bergeron|
|Mar 08 '12||BUF 1 at BOS 3||J. Boychuk|
|Feb 24 '12||BOS 1 at BUF 2 - SO||D. Roy|
|Feb 08 '12||BOS 0 at BUF 6||C. Ehrhoff|
|Nov 23 '11||BOS 4 at BUF 3 - SO||B. Pouliot|
|Nov 12 '11||BUF 2 at BOS 6||N. Horton|