Road woes have played a large part in the Boston Bruins' slip in the Eastern Conference standings but they will face a potentially short-handed rival in their next game away from home.
The Buffalo Sabres, though, will be seeking to add to a five-game point streak at the First Niagara Center when they face the Bruins on Sunday night.
Boston was challenging for the Eastern Conference lead earlier this month but has fallen well behind Pittsburgh by going 2-4-1 in its last seven. The Bruins (21-8-4) suffered their fifth loss in six road games Saturday, 3-1 to Philadelphia.
Boston got its lone goal from Nathan Horton in the third period despite outshooting the Flyers 34-22. In their previous game Wednesday, the Bruins matched their best scoring performance of the season but fell 6-5 in a shootout to Montreal.
"We know we have to get better," goaltender Tuukka Rask said. "We haven't played that bad, but it's uncharacteristic mistakes. And it's something we need to get rid of.
"It happens but then again ... we know we need to get better in all areas. It's weird because we're not playing awful and we're losing games, but we know it's not good enough."
The Bruins would appear to need a better performance Sunday as Buffalo is 3-0-2 in its last five home games, but the Sabres (13-16-6) are also 0-1-2 in their last three overall after blowing a two-goal lead Saturday against visiting Washington.
They gave up the tying goal with 40 seconds left in regulation en route to a 4-3 shootout defeat. It was the sixth time Buffalo has failed to capitalize on a two-goal advantage.
The Sabres also blew a one-goal lead in the third period against Florida in a 5-4 shootout loss Thursday.
"It's happened too many times," said forward Ville Leino, who scored a pair of goals Saturday. "It shouldn't happen. Good teams usually win those games."
Leading scorer Thomas Vanek missed both of those losses with an upper-body injury, but interim coach Ron Rolston told the league's website there's a chance he could return Sunday. Vanek participated in the team's optional skate Saturday, but Rolston said, "he was out there today and moving, but he's not where he needs to be."
The Sabres won't have defenseman Jordan Leopold after he was traded to St. Louis on Saturday for a pair of draft picks. General manager Darcy Regier said that might not be the end to Buffalo's moves before the trade deadline, even hinting that Vanek, goaltender Ryan Miller and captain Jason Pominville are available if an enticing deal comes along.
"Where our hockey club is right now, we have to be open to listening to just about anything and everything," Regier said. "I have talked to all 29 GMs over the last week, and I'll continue to try to figure out ways that we can get better not just for the rest of this year but, more importantly, for the future."
In the meantime, the Sabres will try to earn their third win in four meetings with Boston this season. The used their own three-goal outburst in the third period for a 4-2 victory in the most recent meeting Feb. 15 in Buffalo.
The Sabres are also 5-1-1 in the last seven visits from the Bruins but suffered one of those losses on Feb. 10. Boston scored twice in the third period for that 3-1 win.
Miller will likely be back in net after Jhonas Enroth started Saturday. Miller is 16-2-4 with a 2.04 goals-against average at home against Boston in the regular season.
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