NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Thursday, March 10th (All times eastern)
Buffalo Sabres (32-26-8) at Boston Bruins (38-20-8), 7 p.m.
(Sports Network) - Zdeno Chara avoided a suspension for a hard check in Tuesday's loss to Montreal, and Boston's captain will try to help his club elude a third straight defeat when the Bruins host the Buffalo Sabres tonight at TD Garden.
The NHL announced Wednesday that Chara will face no additional discipline for his role in a scary collision with Canadiens forward Max Pacioretty. The play occurred when Pacioretty was charging down the left-wing side near the benches during the last minute of the second period of Montreal's 4-1 win on Tuesday.
Chara went to pinch Pacioretty off and forced him into a dangerous spot where a pane of glass separates the benches. His head hit the padded support before he tumbled straight to the ice. Pacioretty laid motionless on the ice for several minutes before he was carried off on a stretcher and later taken to a Montreal hospital.
Chara was handed a major penalty for interference and a game misconduct on the play. Pacioretty suffered a severe concussion, as well as a fracture of the fourth cervical vertebrae and is sidelined indefinitely.
Boston has lost two straight on the heels of a seven-game winning streak and is now just three points ahead of Montreal for the Northeast Division lead.
Buffalo, meanwhile, had a seven-game point streak snapped Tuesday in Pittsburgh and the Sabres are in the thick of the Eastern Conference playoff race. Buffalo is currently holding onto the conference's eighth and final postseason berth, but is just one point ahead of idle Carolina for that distinction.
The Sabres can win the season series with Boston tonight, as Buffalo has won three straight since the Bruins won the first two encounters of the year. The clubs have split the last eight meetings overall and Buffalo has lost in three of its last five trips to Beantown.
The Bruins were burned by Lars Eller in Tuesday's loss, as the Canadiens rookie posted his first two-goal game. Milan Lucic scored the lone goal for Boston, while Tuukka Rask surrendered all four goals on 26 shots.
"They came out strong," Rask said. "It put us behind the eight ball right away in this building where it's always tough."
Tim Thomas is expected to get the start tonight. Boston's No. 1 netminder is 2-0-1 with a 2.52 goals-against average in three games against the Sabres this season.
Boston is just 16-12-4 as the host this season and has lost three of its last four games at TD Garden.
The Sabres were handed a 3-1 setback in Pittsburgh on Tuesday, as Marc-Andre Fleury made 29 stops to help backstop the Penguins to victory. It was the first regulation loss since Feb. 18 for Buffalo, which is 5-1-2 over its last eight contests.
Rob Niedermayer scored the lone goal Buffalo and Ryan Miller was charged with three goals on 31 shots.
"There's always going to be difficulties in every game," said Niedermayer. "We're not the only desperate team out there and we have to play better down the stretch if we want to get in."
Buffalo could again be without its leading scorer tonight, as forward Thomas Vanek is questionable with an illness. Vanek, who is pacing the Sabres with 55 points, also missed Tuesday's game in Pittsburgh.
Sabres forwards Mike Grier (lower body), Patrick Kaleta (knee) and Jochen Hecht (upper body) are also questionable for tonight's game.
Buffalo is 3-1-1 on a seven-game road trip that is set to end Saturday in Toronto. The Sabres are 18-11-5 as the visiting team this season.
03/10 10:49:44 ET