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NHL Preview from The Sports Network



Saturday, April 5th (All times eastern)

Buffalo Sabres (38-31-12) at Boston Bruins (41-28-12), 7 p.m.

(Sports Network) - With a playoff spot clinched, the Boston Bruins will fight for positioning when they face the Buffalo Sabres tonight at TD Banknorth Garden in the final regular-season game for both teams.

The Bruins locked up a trip to the postseason on Friday, as they notched a victory at Ottawa to get back to the playoffs for the first time since 2004.

Phil Kessel's third-period goal propelled Boston to the 2-1 victory at Scotiabank Place as both clubs clinched a playoff berth. The Senators made it to the postseason as a result of Carolina's regulation loss to Florida on Friday.

Zdeno Chara also scored and Tim Thomas made 17 saves for Boston, which is 4-0-3 in its last seven games.

The Bruins are currently sixth in the East with 94 points and need just one point to ensure they'll finish ahead of Ottawa, which is tied with Boston and holds the tiebreaker as a result of its higher win total. Boston could finish as high as fifth in the conference or as low as eighth, depending on how the final two days of the season unfold.

The New York Rangers are currently the fifth seed with 96 points and Philadelphia is eighth with 93. Both the Flyers and Rangers will complete their schedules on Sunday.

Boston is 21-15-4 as the hosts this year and has won three of four, four of six and seven of its last 11 home tests.

The Sabres, meanwhile, will miss out on this year's postseason after being officially eliminated from the race with Thursday's setback in Montreal. Bryan Smolinski scored two goals, as the Canadiens downed Buffalo, 3-1, to seal the Sabres' fate.

Ales Kotalik tallied for the Sabres, while Ryan Miller allowed three goals on 25 shots in defeat.

Buffalo became the first team to win the Presidents' Trophy one season and miss the playoffs the next since the Rangers sat out the postseason in 1992-93 after posting the league's best record in the previous campaign. The only other team to miss the playoffs after winning the Presidents' Trophy in the expansion era were the 1969-70 Montreal Canadiens.

Buffalo is completing its season on a three-game road trip and is 18-16-6 as the visiting club this year. The Sabres have won three of four and five of their last eight on the road.

Four of the seven meetings between the Sabres and Bruins this year have gone past regulation and Boston leads the series with a 4-1-2 mark. Buffalo has still taken 10 of the last 16 encounters overall and has won in seven of its last 11 trips to Beantown.

04/05 10:40:43 ET


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