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Big Story: Buffalo hopes to build on a three-game point streak as it looks to make a run at the postseason, while the Bruins aim to return to form on the heels of a noteworthy win at St. Louis. Since a three-game losing skid, the Sabres have gone 2-0-1 as they conclude a four-game homestand. With a victory against the Islanders on Tuesday, Buffalo jumped into 12th place in the Eastern Conference, a point ahead of both the Isles and Montreal and six points out of a playoff spot.
After sending the Blues to their first regulation home loss in 22 games, Boston visits Buffalo for the fifth stop of a season-high six-game road trip. The Bruins, who are 8-9-1 since they last won back-to-back games from Jan. 10-12, have a two-point lead over Ottawa for the top spot in the Northeast with four games in hand.
Bruins: Having already dropped two straight, the deck was stacked against the B's Wednesday in St. Louis -- the Blues were riding a franchise-record 21-game point streak at home and hadn't lost in regulation to an Eastern opponent all season. However, Marchand scored twice and Milan Lucic and Chris Kelly each had a goal and an assist in the opening period, as Boston jumped out to a 2-0 lead 6:19 into the contest and held on for a 4-2 victory. The Blues tied the game midway through the opening period with two goals on their first five shots, but Tim Thomas settled in to stop the next 27 shots and 30 overall. Kelly's goal, his 15th of the season to tie a career high, gave the B's a 3-2 edge with 40 seconds left in the first and proved to be the game-winner.
"This was a big win for us after being shut out in the last game," said Marchand, whose 21 goals ties him for the team lead with Lucic. "We had a couple of losses in a row and we wanted to make sure we followed up with a good game. If we didn't win, we wanted to get back to playing our type of hockey. We had a great game tonight."
Sabres: Ryan Miller lost his shutout bid late in third period of Tuesday night's game, but he stopped the other 30 Islander shots to anchor a 2-1 victory. Pominville and Derek Roy each had a pair of assists for their second multi-point games in a row, while Tyler Myers and Thomas Vanek provided the offense with early goals in the first and second periods, respectively.
"We're happy, but at the same time, we've got to get some more points," Roy said. "We've got to keep winning hockey games. We can't win one, lose one anymore. We've got to put a streak together. We've got to gain some ground right now."
The schedule-makers have made it a hard task for Buffalo "to put a streak together" this weekend, though. After hosting the defending champs on Friday, the Sabres head to Madison Square Garden for a clash with the East-leading New York Rangers on Saturday night.
"It's a good test," coach Lindy Ruff told the team's website. "They've got good size, good grit; both of them. It's a good test for us. It'll tell us where we're at."
Who's Hot: Boston centers Seguin and Kelly each have points in three of their previous four. … Pominville, who has team highs of 23 goals and 36 assists, has points in eight of his last nine with six goals and six assists in that stretch. Roy has two goals and five assists during a four-game point streak after totaling just three goals and an assist in his prior 19 contests.
Injury Report: Boston forward Rich Peverley is out 4-6 weeks with a sprained right MCL, while forward Nathan Horton (concussion) remains on IR. … Buffalo defenseman Robyn Regehr left Tuesday's win in the first period with an upper-body injury, but is expected to play Friday. Brad Boyes (undisclosed) missed Thursday's practice and is questionable after also suffering an injury against the Islanders. Cody McCormick (upper body) has missed the last six games, but has started practicing with the team and is "getting closer" to returning, according to Ruff. Jochen Hecht is still sidelined with a concussion.
Stat Pack: It's easy to argue that Boson is the best third-period team in the NHL. The Bruins have a League-best plus-33 scoring differential in the final period and they are a perfect 24-for-24 this season when leading after two. … Each team's power play has been struggling mightily. The B's are 2 for 22 in their last 10 games, while Buffalo has converted just 1 of 33 chances in its last 12.
Puck Drop: It has been a rocky season for Miller, but if the Sabres are to going to make a run at the playoffs, he is the man who will be at the center of it. The 31-year-old netminder features an 18-17-4 record on the season, but he is 6-2-2 over his last 10 starts.
"It's been coming around for a little while here, and I do feel a little bit better about my game," Miller told the team's website. "There's a big build-up here towards the end of the season and I want to be as sharp as I can and gather as many wins as possible. Just trying to stay really calm and collected and watch the game. A big help has been the guys are coming through the middle a lot more. I'm getting pretty good reads on the play and when I have one-on-ones with the guys, I can focus on challenging that and it all kind of blends together."