The Buffalo Sabres are still driving towards a playoff spot, but the outcome of their next two games could decide whether they belong there or not.
Buffalo has earned points in three straight games, beginning a four-game homestand last Friday with a shootout loss to the Canadiens before picking up wins over the Penguins and Islanders. That leaves the Sabres seven points out of the eighth spot in the conference.
Tonight, Buffalo takes on Northeast Division-leading Boston, which sits second in the East with 74 points. That has the Bruins seven points behind the conference-leading Rangers, who host the Sabres on Saturday in the opener of a five-game road trip for Buffalo.
Ryan Miller helped to key Tuesday's win over the Islanders, making 30 saves in the tight contest. Tyler Myers and Thomas Vanek both scored, while Derek Roy and Jason Pominville logged two assists each.
"We played a really good game tonight," said Roy. "From the goalie out we worked hard and we were really disciplined."
Pominville has six goals and six assists in his past nine games, while Roy has logged five assists and seven points over a four-game point streak. Myers is also riding a four-game string of points (2 goals, 2 assists), one game shy of his career high.
Buffalo's Brad Boyes is questionable for tonight due to an undisclosed injury.
The Bruins also come into this encounter off a win as they knocked off the Blues 4-2 in St. Louis on Wednesday. Brad Marchand scored twice for his first multi-goal effort since Dec. 23, while Chris Kelly snapped a 13-game goal drought with his career high-tying 15th tally of the season. Milan Lucic also scored and Tim Thomas stopped 30 shots.
"Some scoring early in the game I think was helpful to our overall team confidence," said Thomas. "They may have had the puck in our zone in the second period, but I think we did a pretty good job of playing our type of game overall and not letting things get too out of control."
The win maintained Boston's two-point lead over Ottawa for first place in the division and gave it a split of the first four contests of a six-game road trip that ends with a big test in Ottawa on Saturday.
The Bruins are 12-11-1 since a seven-game win streak from Dec. 10-28 and haven't won back-to-back games since Jan. 10-12. They are 12-1-0 in their last 13 games against divisional foes, but the lone loss in that span was a 6-0 setback in Buffalo on Feb. 8.
Miller notched a 36-save shutout and Pominville netted a pair of goals to give the Sabres their first victory in three meetings so far this season with the Bruins, Buffalo also has five wins in the past seven encounters overall.
Pominville has four points in the three meetings so far, while Vanek has a goal in five straight versus the Bruins.
Tyler Seguin is leading the way for Boston against Buffalo this season with three goals and five points, while Marchand has a pair of tallies and two assists. The Bruins have lost three of four and eight of their last 12 in Buffalo.