Bruins hope to bolster playoff credentials vs. Sabres

( - The Boston Bruins seek to strengthen their hold on a playoff spot Tuesday night and avoid a letdown when they take on the Buffalo Sabres.

The Bruins had been rolling as of late, ripping off five straight wins and an eight-game point streak (7-0-1) before getting shut out by the Washington Capitals 2-0 on Sunday. Still, Boston has a five-point lead over the Ottawa Senators and a six-point edge on the Florida Panthers in the race for the second wild card position in the Eastern Conference.

The Senators and Panthers also are in action on Tuesday.

Tuukka Rask helped lead the Bruins to a shutout win over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday, but didn't get any support from his offense the following day. Rask made 36 saves, but Washington's Braden Holtby came up with 32 of his own.

"I thought we just got better as the game went on, we just couldn't score on Holtby again," Rask said.

Rask figures to start again tonight and is 7-5-1 lifetime versus the Sabres with a 2.47 goals against average and .921 save percentage.

The Bruins have won four in a row over the Sabres, including the first three of four meetings this season. They also have won three straight and six of the last eight encounters as the host.

Boston defenseman Dougie Hamilton has three goals and six points in the three meetings, while forwards Brad Marchand (2 goals, 2 assists) and Loui Eriksson (1 goal, 3 assists) have four points each.

Forward Tyler Ennis is leading the Sabres in this season series with a goal and two assists.

Ennis was one of three goal-scorers for the Sabres in last night's 4-3 shootout loss to the Capitals, but also came up empty on his attempt in the tiebreaker.

Anders Lindback made 35 saves for the Sabres through overtime, but yielded the lone tally of the shootout to Evgeny Kuznetsov in the first round.

Cody Hodgson and Johan Larsson also scored in regulation as the Sabres lost their seventh straight contest (0-5-2).

Despite the loss, which featured defenseman Zach Bogosian (lower body) and Andrej Meszaros (upper body) sitting out due to injury, Buffalo coach Ted Nolan was pleased with his team's effort.

"They gave us what they had to give and that's all you can ask for," Nolan said.

Nolan is expected to go with netminder Matt Hackett for this game and the 25- year-old will try to move past his previous experience in Boston.

Hackett made his first career start versus the Bruins on April 12, 2014, but left that game with a torn ACL that sidelined him for nearly eight months. He has lost both of his NHL starts this season, yielding eight goals on 60 shots.