Get your game notes: Sabres at Bruins

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Tonight on NBCSN, it’s the Boston Bruins hosting the Buffalo Sabres at 7:30 p.m. ET. Following are some game notes, as compiled by the NHL on NBC research team:

TOP STORYLINES

• Last game (Sunday): WSH def. BOS 2-0 – BOS shut out for just the 4th time this season, second time vs. WSH.

• Both season-high 5-game winning streak and 11 straight games scoring first streak snapped.

• Despite the loss, the Bruins have been playing better hockey since Feb. 22. They are 8-2-1 in their last 11 games, and have closed the gap between themselves and teams just ahead.

• Bruins need this game: Of the Bruins 13 remaining games, 6 are against teams currently in playoff position. Another 4 are against teams in the playoff hunt, including Thursday’s matchup at OTT.

• Sabres slumping continues: Last game (Monday): WSH def. BUF 4-3 SO.

• Surrendered two 1-goal leads; allowed 2 PP goals.

• BUF has lost 7 straight games (0-5-2 record), while scoring 9 goals in their 6 games this month.

• If BUF finishes last overall, they will have a 20.0% chance of landing the first pick in the NHL draft.

• Scoring woes continue: Last season, BUF set an NHL record for the fewest goals in the expansion era of hockey dating to back to 1967 (150 goals; 1.83 g/gm). This season, Buffalo’s scoring is occurring at an even worse rate: 1.81 goals/gm (last in NHL).

SABRES TEAM/PLAYER NOTES

• Lone All-Star and number-one center Zemgus Girgensons was placed on IR on February 26 after blocking a shot by CBJ defenseman James Wisniewski (since traded to ANA) off his right foot two days prior. Whether or not he will return this season is still to be determined.

• Girgensons’ injury, combined with the trade of veteran center Torrey Mitchell (to MTL), have left Buffalo without much depth (or production) amongst its 4 centers, though both Larsson (5 points in last 4 games) and Hodgson scored last night. With a PP goal Monday vs. WSH, Tyler Ennis now has 5 points (3G-2A) in his last 6 games since returning from a groin injury. He leads the team in goals (18), power-play goals (6), and points (38).

• Since Feb. 19, Matt Moulson has been the team’s most consistent scorer. He logged an assist vs. WSH, giving him 11 points (2G-9A) in the last 12 games.

• Chad Johnson (lower-body) was injured before he could make an appearance with the Sabres after being acquired at the trade deadline from NYI.

• This has made Anders Lindback the everyday goalie – he has started 5 of the 6 games in March, posting an 0-3-2 record, 2.70 GAA, and a .924 SV% in the month.

• Lindback has not won a game in which he has started this season (b/w DAL and BUF). In those 12 starts, he has a record of 0-10-2.

• His two wins this season both came in relief appearances with the Stars.

• In his last 2 starts combined, Lindback has stopped 66 of 70 shots faced (vs. NYR & vs. WSH).

• Should Matt Hackett be named the starter of this 2nd game of a back-to-back, he would be making just his 3rd start of the season.

• He was pulled after allowing 4 goals on 23 shots at WSH on March 7.

• This season: 0-2-0 record, 5.19 GAA, and a .867 SV%.

• In his only career start vs. BOS last season, he allowed 3 goals on 23 shots in the 4-1 loss.

BRUINS TEAM/PLAYER NOTES

• David Krejci took part in the team’s morning skate today. This is the first time he has skated with the team since suffering a partially torn MCL at STL on Feb. 20. Krejci is in the 4th week of a 4-6 week timetable that was originally given.

• Boston’s recent winning ways can be attributed to the team’s newfound production out of young forwards Ryan Spooner (3rd-year) and David Pastrnak (rookie).

• After being recalled on Feb. 21, Spooner has 9 points (3G-6A) in the last 11 games.

• Pastrnak now has 8 points (3G-5A) in the last 9 games. See chart below that shows his scoring outburst.

• 2014 1st-round pick (25th overall) and the youngest player in the NHL (May, 25, 1996 – 18 years old).

• Team-leading scorer Patrice Bergeron has also picked up the scoring load for BOS during this surge, logging 9 points (3G-6A), +4 rating in the last 11 games.

• Career vs. BUF: 32 points (9G, 23A) in 54 games.

• 3rd- year defenseman Dougie Hamilton is enjoying a career-year for BOS. For the second consecutive season, he has topped his previous amount of goals, assists, and points.

• Leads all BOS defensemen in points this season (40).

• Career vs. BUF: 9 points (5G-4A) in 11 games.

• Tuukka Rask’s strong goaltending of late has helped the Bruins stay in playoff position. In his last 9 starts, he has gone 6-2-1, with a 1.64 GAA, and a .949 SV%.

• Niklas Svedberg is expected to get the start in net vs. BUF.

• This season: 7-5-0 record, 2.43 GAA, and a .918 SV%.

• He’s won his last 2 starts (2.44 GAA, .929 SV%) at NJ (Feb. 27) and vs. DET (March 8).

NHL on NBCSN: Bruins aim to complete sweep of Sabres

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NBCSN will continue its coverage of the 2014-15 campaign when the Boston Bruins host the Buffalo Sabres at the TD Garden at 7:30 p.m. ET tonight. In addition to NBCSN, you can also watch the game and pre-show online.

The Bruins missed a key opportunity to gain an edge in the battle for the top Wild Card spot when they suffered a 2-0 loss to the Washington Capitals on Sunday, but even with that setback factored in, Boston has been one of the league’s best teams lately.

The problem is the Bruins haven’t been the best squad in recent weeks. Led by rookie goaltender Andrew Hammond, the Ottawa Senators have posted an incredible 11-1-1 record starting with their victory against Montreal on Feb. 18. The Bruins are the only thing standing between Ottawa and a playoff spot and while Boston still has a five-point edge, the Senators are a constant remainder that the Bruins can’t afford to slow down now.

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Tonight’s game against the lowly Buffalo Sabres provides Boston with a great opportunity to pick up two points, but given that it comes just before the Bruins embark on a key road trip to Ottawa, Florida, and Tampa Bay, it’s also is a critical game for them.

Buffalo has lost seven straight, but it might be due for a win after going all the way to the shootout in two of its last three contests, including Monday’s game against Washington.

“It was a really good effort. Skills competition at the end. I’m very pleased with the way we played,” Sabres coach Ted Nolan said, per the team’s Twitter feed, after the 4-3 shootout loss. He added, “These guys gave us what they have to give, and that’s all you can ask for.”

His players seemed similarly upbeat following Monday’s contest.

Buffalo will be going for its first win against Boston since Feb. 26, 2014. The silver lining for the Sabres is that they have taken the Bruins to overtime in their last two meetings.

They have the potential to be a thorn in Boston’s sides tonight and make the Bruins’ final weeks of the regular season a little more stressful in the process.

Holtby blanks Bruins, Capitals grab East’s top wild card spot

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Goaltending was a big reason why the Boston Bruins came into Sunday on a hot streak, but Braden Holtby showed that the Washington Capitals boast an outstanding netminder, too.

Holtby stopped all 32 Bruins shots as Washington won 2-0 tonight, securing the top wild card spot for the Capitals. They now have a two-point lead over Boston for that position and enjoy a healthy margin against the East’s bubble teams.

Holtby is impressing if you look at things from a short-term perspective:

… Yet he’s had a great season overall, too, as he now has eight shutouts and 33 wins in 2014-15.

Now, let’s not forget that Tuukka Rask was strong in his own right, as you can see most obviously from this sprawling stop:

Holtby obviously stole the show, though, as Washington’s two goals were clearly enough for the win. (Nicklas Backstrom collected two assists, setting a new Capitals franchise record for that stat.)

It wasn’t a perfect game in every way for the Capitals, as Alex Ovechkin experienced this, um, uncomfortable moment:

Still, he seems OK, and winning a big game probably helps to soothe that pain a bit.

WATCH LIVE: Bruins at Capitals

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All of a sudden, the Boston Bruins aren’t just fighting for a playoff spot … they’re now fighting for a better playoff spot.

The Washington Capitals get to decide if Boston will advance on their top wild card spot, as the two battle it out on Sunday night. You can catch the action on NBCSN or stream it via NBC Live Sports Extra:

CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE

Read more about this matchup in this in-depth preview.

NHL on NBCSN: Bruins, Capitals will break Wild Card tie tonight

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NBCSN will continue its coverage of the 2014-15 campaign when the Washington Capitals host the Boston Bruins at the Verizon Center at 7:30 p.m. ET tonight. In addition to NBCSN, you can also watch the game and pre-show online.

It wasn’t too long ago that Boston’s playoff position looked vulnerable, but after five straight victories, the Bruins have not only managed to stay six points ahead of the similarly streaking Florida Panthers, but also catch up to the Washington Capitals in the fight for the first Wild Card spot.

“I think we believe in ourselves right now,” said Patrice Bergeron, per the team’s website. “Since the trade deadline, I think it put a lot of guys at ease, kind of realizing that this is our team. The management — from up to Peter [Chiarelli] to Cam [Neely] and everyone down — they all believe in us, and we have to show them that we can do it.

“It’s about doing it every night. Right now, we all need to be leaders and step up and play big.”

Both Washington and Boston have 82 points this season and are equal when it comes to regulation plus overtime wins (33), but the Bruins have a slim edge right now given that they’ve played in one less game. Regardless, the occupant of the first Wild Card seed Monday morning will be the winner of this contest.

In addition to the obvious positioning advantage that would come with a victory tonight, Washington could also use the confidence boost that comes with winning. It has lost three of its last four games and attracted the ire of Capitals coach Barry Trotz.

“Right now we have too many passengers,” Trotz told CSN Washington. “You can’t carry a guy on your back. This league is way too good. If there’s a guy next to you not pulling his weight you can’t carry him. You either get rid of him or give him a shake and tell him to get on the bus and start traveling in the right direction. That’s probably why [the players] had a closed-door meeting, because I told them to fix it.”

The Capitals realize their game has slipped lately and they’re position has been compromised as a result. The silver lining for them is that their fate is still in their hands.