BUFFALO (LGS) — Now that the Buffalo Sabres have finished their recent string of unusual opponents, familiarity rears its head tonight at 7 p.m. (MSG-TV/WGR-AM). That’s when the Boston Bruins visit HSBC Arena to tangle with the NHL point-leaders.
Buffalo (39-15-4) defeated the Edmonton Oilers in overtime Thursday 2-1, extending their unbeaten streak to four games and their home winning streak to six. Buffalo has 82 points, one ahead of the Nashville Predators.
Co-captain Daniel Briere scored the game-winner in overtime as the Sabres came from behind to win yet another game. Shawn Horcoff scored the lone goal for Edmonton before Maxim Afinogenov tied the score.
But the injuries are now piling up. Afinogenov, the team’s second-leading scorer, broke a bone in his left wrist, and center Jiri Novotny re-injured his ankle. Afinogenov will be lost for a minimum of six weeks, as his injury will require surgery.
This news comes on the heels of the team losing defenseman Jaroslav Spacek and center Paul Gaustad. Spacek broke his hand attempting to block a shot in the first period against the Calgary Flames on Feb. 10. Gaustad will be out for the remainder of the season with a severed tendon in his right leg that he suffered killing a penalty Feb. 7 against the Ottawa Senators.
In response to the most recent injuries, the team recalled forwards Drew Stafford and Clarke MacArthur on Thursday night.
“It's one of those times of year where we're getting hit now, it's our turn,” Briere said. “But you can't stop and worry too much about it. There's guys that are going to come up and it's their chance to step up.”
Stafford will likely step directly into Afinogenov’s role playing on a line with Derek Roy and Thomas Vanek. It is a position Stafford has played before, when Afinogenov was out with a separated shoulder earlier this season. This time, he’ll have more than five games to show what he can do in that position.
MacArthur meanwhile split time with Daniel Paille on the wing with Chris Drury and Ales Kotalik.
Stafford has two goals and five points in 19 games with Buffalo this season. MacArthur has been held scoreless in two appearances.
“You look around and there have been cases where teams have lost key players and have been better at times,” head coach Lindy Ruff said. “You get a lot of enthusiasm and a lot of excitement from players that are getting the opportunity to play. I think that's what you're going to see.”
Boston (26-26-4) will be playing the second game of a season-long six-game road trip. They began it Thursday with a 4-1 loss to the New York Islanders.
Glen Murray scored the lone goal for Boston, which is in last place in the Northeast Division and eight points out of the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
“It was just mistakes in our own zone that cost us,” Murray said after the loss. “We know the importance of these games. You don't need to be a rocket scientist to see we need points.”
This is the seventh game played between the two teams this season, with Buffalo winning five of the previous six. The two teams will conclude the season series in Buffalo April 5, the final home game of the regular season.
Fun Fact of the Game:
The game will mark the second straight Saturday that Bruins’ players Chuck Kobasew and Andrew Ference have played in Buffalo. This is because Calgary traded the two players to Boston for defenseman Brad Stuart following the Flames' loss to the Sabres last Saturday.