Boston at Buffalo
When: 1:00 PM ET, Saturday, December 3, 2016
Where: KeyBank Center, Buffalo
BUFFALO – (Wire Service Preview) – (special to Digital Sports Desk) – The return of Jack Eichel has provided an immediate jolt to the Buffalo Sabres, who look to match a season high when they go for their third straight victory against the visiting Boston Bruins on Saturday afternoon. Buffalo has the fewest goals in the league but has scored nine times in two games with Eichel back in the lineup.
“Did I anticipate a two-goal game type of bump? No,” Sabres coach Dan Bylsma said. “It just kind of shows what kind of player he can be, what kind of player he is. He’s a dynamic player and he brings so much to our team in speed and attack. Everyone feeds off it … it has carried over to other players.” Boston halted a 1-3-1 slide with a 2-1 shootout win over Carolina on Thursday, getting the tying goal in the final minute of regulation. Offense suddenly has become problematic for the Bruins, who have been held to two goals or fewer in five of their past six games but scored four times in a shutout win over Buffalo on Nov. 7.
TV: 1 p.m. ET, Sportsnet, NESN (Boston), MSG-B Buffalo
ABOUT THE BRUINS (13-10-1): Captain Zdeno Chara (lower body) reported improvement in his condition Friday, but the towering defenseman will sit out his sixth consecutive game Saturday. Another possible injury concern is center Patrice Bergeron, who was not at practice on Friday but will accompany the team to Buffalo, according to Boston coach Claude Julien. Ryan Spooner centered Brad Marchard and David Pastrnak at practice while Swedish forward Anton Blidh was recalled from the minors.
ABOUT THE SABRES (9-9-5): Eichel sat out the first 21 games due to a high ankle sprain but made a memorable home debut by scoring a pair of third-period goals to topple the Metropolitan-leading New York Rangers on Thursday. “He can open up a game at any time,” Buffalo captain Brian Gionta said. “He’s feared out there. He’s a threat every time he’s on the ice.” Robin Lehner, who was injured versus Ottawa on Tuesday, will be back in net – although he’s 3-7-3 lifetime against the Bruins.
1. Eichel has a seven-game point streak dating to last season.
2. Bruins G Tuukka Rask is 10-5-1 with a 2.19 goals-against average versus the Sabres after blanking them last month.
3. Buffalo is 4-for-7 on the power play over the past two games.