Feb 8, 2012, 8:02 AM EST
When last we saw the Sabres and Bruins get together, Paul Gaustad was duking it out with Milan Lucic and defending Ryan Miller‘s honor a game too late as the Bruins stormed back to win in a shootout. When the two face off in Buffalo tonight (7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN) cooler heads might prevail, but with the Sabres trying to get back in the playoffs and the Bruins looking to fully get back on track, don’t bet on it.
The Sabres are winners of three of their last four and are hoping to claw back into the Eastern Conference playoff race. With how jumbled things are at the bottom, Buffalo is 11 points back of Ottawa for eighth. Unfortunately for them, they get to deal with Boston tonight without Thomas Vanek who continues to be out with an upper body injury.
Boston, meanwhile, is coming off an impressive win over Washington on Sunday and hoping to keep their game up to continue righting the ship. A loss to Buffalo would mean all the good will they built up after that win on Sunday would be gone. The Bruins don’t want to go back to square one and with how Tim Thomas has played since the White House kerfuffle, the Bruins are in good shape.
In tonight’s nightcap, the Sharks and Flames face off in San Jose (10:00 p.m. ET on NBCSN) as a pair of teams playing streaky hockey. The Sharks recently have lost three in a row followed by winning three in a row but are coming off a bad 5-3 loss to Phoenix.
The trio of Joe Thornton, Logan Couture, and Patrick Marleau have been keying the Sharks offense while Antti Niemi has played strong in goal. If the Sharks can find consistency they’ll be able to handle their brutal second half schedule a bit easier. They’ll need all they can get against a Flames team that is back in the hunt for the playoffs.
Jarome Iginla‘s team has been alternating wins and losses like a true playoff bubble team this season. With the sort of roller coaster they’ve been on you’d think they would be more frustrated, instead they’re keeping their heads up. Miikka Kiprusoff has been looking like the guy we’ve always remembered in goal while Iginla and Olli Jokinen have been leading the way offensively. Taking a chunk out of the Sharks could prove to be inspiring for Calgary as they’re just three points out of the eighth spot in the Western Conference.
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