Vanek and Marchand

Get your game notes: Bruins at Sabres

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The Sabres could use a much better effort tonight against the visiting Bruins. The game can be seen live on NBCSN (TSN2 in Canada) starting at 8 p.m. ET.

Following are some game notes, as compiled by the NHL on NBC research team:

• The Sabres are winless in their six home games this season (0-5-1), having been outscored by a combined 17-6 margin. The last time they suffered through such a streak at the First Niagara Center was Oct. 9-Nov. 5, 2010, when they went seven straight without a win (0-6-1). In 2013-14, the Bruins have won all three of their road games by a combined 11-3.

• The Sabres have been outscored 14-3 in first periods this season – one of the many reasons they have held a lead in only one of their 10 games. (During their 3-2 OT loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Oct. 8, they held leads of 1-0 and 2-1). The Sabres have played 606:50 this season and held a lead for a grand total of 9:35.

• Since the beginning of the 2010-11 season, the Boston Bruins have won 128 regular-season games (4th-most in the NHL), while the Buffalo Sabres have won only 104 (T-20th-most). However, the Sabres have the slight edge in head-to-head matchups during that span, winning nine (9-5-3 record, 21 points) to the Bruins’ eight (8-5-4, 20 points).

Of the six 400-goal scorers to have played in the NHL this season, only the Bruins’ Jarome Iginla (530 career goals) has yet to score in 2013-14.

Career goals 2013-14

1. Jaromir Jagr (NJ) 683 2
2. Teemu Selanne (ANA) 678 3
3. Iginla (BOS) 530 0
4. Marian Hossa (CHI) 437 3
5. Daniel Alfredsson (DET) 427 1
6. Patrick Marleau (SJ) 411 7

Tonight is Iginla’s 8th game; his only longer drought to start a season was in 1999-2000, when he went without a goal in his first 11 games as a member of the Calgary Flames.

• Neither the Bruins nor the Sabres have a player among the NHL’s top-50 in points this season. Of all the skaters, only Sabres forward Cody Hodgson has more than six points (2 goals, five assists = 7 points)

• Boston coach Claude Julien hinted after Monday’s practice that backup goaltender Chad Johnson will make his Bruins debut in the net tonight. That would mean that the Bruins will have started the backup in each of their last five meetings with the Sabres. After starting netminder Tuukka Rask (career: 4-5-1, 2.51 vs. BUF) surrendered a career-high six goals to Buffalo in a 7-4 loss on Jan. 31 in Boston, Anton Khudobin (now of the Carolina Hurricanes) started the following four games last season.

Shock of Lightning: Stamkos will play

Steven Stamkos
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He’s in.

As if Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final couldn’t get any more dramatic, it has — Tampa Bay captain Steve Stamkos, who hasn’t played since Mar. 31, will make his playoff debut against the Penguins tonight.

Stamkos underwent vascular surgery in early April to correct a blood clotting issue, and has remained on blood thinners ever since. While there’s been no confirmation he’s off medication, he did tell Sportsnet he’d be able to return to the lineup once he was.

More:

Stamkos reiterated that he’s still on the same prescription of blood thinners he was given earlier this month. He takes a 12-hour dosage, twice a day, and it has been suggested to him that once he is cleared to stop taking the medication, Stamkos conceivably could return to the Lightning lineup almost immediately.

That’s why I’m trying to stay in shape,” he said.

Per NHL.com, Stamkos took the warmup and participated in line rushes centering Ondrej Palat and Ryan Callahan.

It’s been exactly eight weeks since Stamkos played his last game. At the time of his diagnosis, the Lightning said his timetable for recovery was 1-3 months.

To say his return will be a boost is a major understatement. Aside from the emotional factor, Stamkos led the Bolts in goals this year, with 36, and would presumably spark a power play that’s gone just 2-for-12 in the series.

 

Drama builds as Stamkos takes Game 7 warmup

NEWARK, NJ - FEBRUARY 26:  Steven Stamkos #91 of the Tampa Bay Lightning skates against the New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center on February 26, 2016 in Newark, New Jersey. The Lightning shutout the Devils 4-0.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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Steve Stamkos took the team bus to tonight’s Eastern Conference Game 7 in Pittsburgh. As TVA noted, it was the first time he’s arrived early for a game in these playoffs.

In his pregame presser, Bolts head coach Jon Cooper refused to answer any questions about Stamkos’ availability.

And then Stamkos took the warmup.

As such, the drama surrounding Tampa Bay’s captain has reached an all-time high. Stamkos, who’s been out of the lineup since early April due to blood clots, looks as though he’s on the verge of an emotional comeback as the Lightning try to win an ECF Game 7 — on the road — for a second consecutive season.

“If Stamkos is in the lineup, it’s our best foot forward,” Cooper said. “If he’s not in the lineup, it’s because he wasn’t eligible to play.”

No word if No. 91 is still on the blood thinning medication he’s been taking since undergoing vascular surgery on Apr. 4.

Stay tuned…

Parise rehabbing back injury without surgery, ‘no question’ he’ll play in World Cup

NEWARK, NJ - MARCH 17:  Zach Parise #11 of the Minnesota Wild skates against the New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center on March 17, 2016 in Newark, New Jersey. The Devils defeated the Wild 7-4.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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EDINA, Minn. (AP) Minnesota Wild left wing Zach Parise has been rehabilitating his back injury without surgery, putting him on track to be at full strength by September.

Parise said Thursday he’s “happy with the way everything’s going.” He said he’s been able to work out as he normally does during the summer, despite missing the playoffs because of the injury.

Parise said there’s “no question” he’ll be ready to play for Team USA in the World Cup of Hockey tournament.

Parise joined teammates Erik Haula, Jason Pominville, Nate Prosser, Jared Spurgeon and Jason Zucker at an autograph signing to raise money for people affected by the wildfires in Alberta. The parents of Spurgeon’s wife, Danielle, lost their home to a fire in the Edmonton area.

WATCH LIVE: Lightning at Penguins, Game 7

TAMPA, FL - MAY 24:  Alex Killorn #17 of the Tampa Bay Lightning falls to the ice at the net against the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game Six of the Eastern Conference Final during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Amalie Arena on May 24, 2016 in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Carlson/Getty Images)
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Not much more to say than this:

GAME 7.

Puck drop is at 8 p.m. ET on NBCSN, but you can also catch the game online using NBC Sports’ Live Extra.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE

Some relevant linkage for tonight’s affair:

It’s been a ‘roller coaster’ — Pens, Bolts ready for Game 7

Vasilevskiy ‘is the big reason we’re in Game 7,’ says Bolts coach Cooper

Pens coach praises Murray: ‘He doesn’t get rattled’

Video: Johnson pays the price for Tampa Bay