BOSTON -- Old rivalry. New day.
BOSTON -- Old rivalry. New day.
But times have changed.
Heck, they've even changed since back in October, when the Bruins, rebounding from an opening-night loss in Washington, hung a 4-0 road decision on the Sabres in Buffalo's opening game.
Much has happened to both teams since - but especially to the Sabres.
Phil Housley's team reeled off a 10-game winning streak from Nov. 8-27. The Sabres then lost five straight (0-3-2) and won two in a row before losing in a shootout at Washington Saturday night.
This franchise has turned repeated low finishes into talent and is 19-10-5 as it comes to Boston for Sunday's late-afternoon game.
However, while things have improved in Buffalo, the Sabres played Saturday night after Patrik Berglund had been suspended indefinitely by the team for refusing to come back after a two-game absence with an illness.
"It's obviously not easy," goaltender Carter Hutton, who played with Berglund last season in St. Louis, said after the game. "It's one of those things you need to move forward - injuries, suspensions. Those things happen, right? It's something that comes with the business. For us, we need to keep plowing forward here.
"We've got a tough schedule ahead of us. We thickened our skin in a lot of ways in the first half here."
Said Housley: "From my knowledge talking to the medical staff, he was ill. So we handled it that way. Obviously, it developed into something different. Jason and the management are handling that."
The Bruins (17-11-4) had a three-game winning streak snapped in Pittsburgh Friday night - rallying from a 3-1 deficit to tie before losing on a third-period goal and outstanding goaltending by Casey DeSmith.
Boston had a season-high 51 shots on goal - their first game with more than 50 since 2005.
"He played a heck of a game," said Boston's Charlie McAvoy, who suffered one of the many injuries that have dogged his team (still missing Patrice Bergeron and Zdeno Chara). "A lot of times I had my hands in the air because I thought we scored, but turned out he made the save - so I guess good for him, even if it sucks right now."
Jaroslav Halak, who made 32 saves in a shutout in his Bruins debut Oct. 4, played Friday night and will play one game while Tuukka Rask plays the other in a back-to-back that ends in Montreal Monday night.
Halak is 11-3-0 with a 2.28 goals against average and .917 save percentage lifetime against the Sabres, while Tuukka Rask is an impressive 13-6-1 with 2.10/.932 numbers against Buffalo.
Hutton played Saturday, leaving Linus Ullmark to make his first career start against Boston Sunday. Ullmark is 6-1-3 with 3.03/.912 this season. He is 15-14-5 lifetime in the NHL.
While Marco Scandella returned after missing eight games with an upper body injury, former Bruin defenseman Matt Hunwick was available but did not make his Sabres debut Saturday night. Acquired from Pittsburgh in June, he had been out with a neck injury before a conditioning assignment in the minors - and he could play Sunday against one of his old teams.
Boston's Sean Kuraly, who had his nose broken in a Dec. 9 fight but continued playing, finally needed surgery for breathing problems and will wear a full shield for 4-6 weeks.
"It definitely feels different," said Kuraly, who moved from center to right wing for Friday's game. "You feel like there's a little bit of a shield between you and the game, kind of, but I think I'll get used to it."
Former Boston University start Jack Eichel, who makes another return to TD Garden, scored two goals Saturday night, while Sam Reinhart posted two assists and has a nine-game points streak. He has five goals and eight assists in those games and 26 points in his last 25.
Eichel has three goals and four assists but is a minus-9 in 11 career games against the Bruins.
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