BOSTON — The Buffalo Sabres have their parents and various family members in Boston for tonight's meeting the with the Bruins at 7 p.m. in TD Garden. The Sabres are looking to build off Thursday's 4-3 win over the New York Islanders and are playing their first road game since winning three straight out west (Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver). Here's what you need to know for tonight's game:
1. The Bruins are on a roll. Boston has won its last four games with victories over St. Louis, Toronto, Detroit and the New York Rangers. The Bruins last loss came on Jan. 30, a 3-1 setback to the Anaheim Ducks. Boston is now 18-1-4 in their last 23 games and are 27-4-4 in their last 35 games overall. They're even better at home, going 9-1-2 in their last 12 home games.
2. The Sabres power play is hot. Buffalo has scored a power-play goal in 10 of the last 13 games dating back to Jan. 7, converting at a 33.3 percent clip in that span. That percentage leads the NHL for that stretch of games with the team's 13 power-play goals tied for second in the league. The top unit of Jack Eichel, Kyle Okposo, Ryan O'Reilly, Sam Reinhart, and Rasmus Ristolainen has combined for 12 goals with each member having at least six power-play points.
3. Chad Johnson gets the start for the Buffalo. With the Sabres playing back-to-back games, in Boston Saturday and home vs. Colorado Sunday, Johnson will get another opportunity for the Sabres. He picked up a big win in Calgary, but then allowed four goals on 32 shots in a loss to Florida on Feb. 1
"I think the biggest thing is they're a confident team that's playing simple and playing the right way so it's going to be hard to defend and hard to generate as well," Johnson said about facing the Bruins. "I think for us the big thing will be managing the puck and having a good (third forward) and managing the momentum."
4. Lineup tweaks may be coming. Forward Zemgus Girgensons did not take the morning skate in Boston.
"He's feeling a little bit under the weather. It will be a game-time decision," Sabres coach Phil Housley said.
Scott Wilson took Girgensons spot during the morning skate. And based on Saturday morning's practice, it looked like Justin Falk would be in for Josh Gorges on defense.
5. Puck possession remains a key. For the Sabres to have a chance to win this game, or any game, they need to have better puck possession, avoid turnovers, and work like gangbusters to get the puck back. And that's not an easy task against the Bruins.
"I think it starts on our forecheck," Housley said. "They're going to try to activate so we have to try and be on the right side of them so they can't get in the play. Then in the offensive zone hopefully we can get some pins where we can kill their cycle game because their D do like to get active. But when they get into a position where they start to roam around and we're not tight to our checks, we're going to have to ride our checks out and play man-to-man and count on everybody to do their job."