After sweeping a home-and-home with the Hurricanes on Monday and Tuesday, the Bruins will return to the Garden Thursday to face the Sabres for the fifth time this season. Thus far, they’ve gone 2-1-1 against the Sabres, with the most recent meeting resulting in a 7-6 shootout loss on Jan. 1.
That New Years Day game was a memorable one, as Tuukka Rask  was yanked after three first-period goals, while Drew Stafford had a hat trick and scored one of the Sabres’ three shootout goals. Luckily for the Bruins, Stafford is not expected to play Thursday due to a groing injury.
WHERE IT’S AT
– The Bruins are 12-8-3 in home games this season. They’ve gone 3-2-0 at the Garden since the New Year, and have received a pair of Tim Thomas  shutouts over their last four home games. Only one of the four meetings between the two teams this season has been at the Garden, with the B’s taking a 3-2 shootout win on Dec. 7.
– The Sabres are 9-9-4 on the road this season and have gone 2-1-1 away from HSBC Arena in 2011. In their most recent road contest, they took a 5-3 loss to the Islanders on Saturday.
– Four different Bruins’ defenseman scored in the Jan. 1 game, as the B’s got first-period goals from Andrew Ference , Dennis Seidenberg  and Zdeno Chara  in the first, as well as third-period tally from Steven Kampfer. The defense wasn’t exactly overwhelming in their own end, as the B’s blew three different leads in the game.
– Ryan Miller has started 22 games dating back to Nov. 26. And people were worried about Thomas’ eight in a row last month’¦
– The Bruins have the second-best goal differential in the Eastern Conference at plus-39. The Sabres have a minus-9 differential.
– Mark Recchi  has four multi-point games in the Bruins’ last 12. Linemate Patrice Bergeron  has five multi-point games in that stretch.There’s no doubting that their line with Brad Marchand  has been one of the most consistent of late.
– Johnny Boychuk  scored his first goal of the season Tuesday in Carolina. He was initially credited with the goal, a blast from the point, before credit was given to Marc Savard . A second change to call gave the goal to Boychuk for good.
STORYLINES GOING IN
– The Sabres are eight points out of a playoff spot, and have played less games than every team currently in line for a trip to the postseason. Given how they’ve fared against the B’s thus far and the fact that they’re coming off a win over the Canadiens, this is a big game for the Sabres. The Bruins have played 46 games to the Sabres’ 45, though the eighth-place Thrashers have played 48. Buffalo isn’t counting this season as a lost one, and even without Derek Roy, who had 35 points in 35 games before a left quadriceps tear ended his season in December.
– Ference was again kept out of Tuesday’s game, with Claude Julien  saying he could have played in a pinch. Ultimately, both Kampfer and Adam McQuaid have filled in admirably for the B’s and the team doesn’t feel pressured to rush Ference back at the risk of the upper-body injury that’s ailed him. Ference has missed the last three games for the Bruins.