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Bruins try to keep momentum going as they host Sabres

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 [1] 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 [2] 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.

NOTABLE NUMBERS

– Four different Bruins’€™ defenseman scored in the Jan. 1 game, as the B’€™s got first-period goals from Andrew Ference [3], Dennis Seidenberg [4] and Zdeno Chara [5] 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 [6] has four multi-point games in the Bruins’€™ last 12. Linemate Patrice Bergeron [7] has five multi-point games in that stretch.There’s no doubting that their line with Brad Marchand [8] has been one of the most consistent of late.

Johnny Boychuk [9] 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 [10]. 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 [11] 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.