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Ice Breakers: Bruins-Sabres, Saturday 11-7

The Bruins will look to turn their luck around Saturday night at the TD Garden, hosting the Northeast Division leading Buffalo Sabres (9-3-1). Buffalo is coming off just their third loss of the season Friday night in Philadelphia, falling to the Flyers 5-2.

The Sabres’ roster remained mainly unchanged from last year, a year that saw Buffalo outside of the playoff picture for the second straight season. Instead of making roster changes, they decided to put all their eggs in one basket. That basket is a healthy Ryan Miller. Miller, who is looking for his fifth straight 30-win season, is well on his way to achieving that mark. He has posted an astonishing 1.89GAA thus far, and is tied for the league lead with a .936 save percentage. Friday night was just the first time this season that Miller had given up four goals in the loss to Philly.

For Boston, the Black & Gold will welcome back gritty fourth line winger Byron Bitz to the lineup. He missed the last three contests, battling a groin injury. To make room, Mikko Lehtonen was optioned back down to Providence.

Boston will look to stop an 0-for-20 stretch on their powerless power play in their last six games. The Bruins haven’t gone seven games without a power play goal since 2003.

Here now, a few newsworthy nuggets about the opponent, the Sabres.

  • Buffalo is the only NHL team that Boston has never swept a season series from. Last season, the team split six meetings.
  • The goalie matchup will feature two netminders that will likely be heading to Vancouver in February to represent the United States in the Winter Olympics. Miller, who has started all but one game this season for Buffalo, and Bruins’ goalie Tim Thomas, reigning Vezina trophy winner, are both likely to take two of the three goalie spots for the U.S. Olympic hockey team. The other spot is probably going to Colorado goaltender Craig Anderson.
  • Leading the way for Buffalo’s offense this season is center Tim Connolly (4G, 8A), who will be playing his 300th NHL game on Saturday. Also atop the Buffalo stat sheet is center Derek Roy (2G, 9A) who has led the team in points the last two seasons, and Jason Pominville (3G, 7A). Tomas Vanek (3G, 4A) is coming off his second career 40-goal season last year.
  • The B’s will get their first look at Sabres’ rookie defenseman Tyler Myers. The 19-year-old Myers, who has three goals and four assists thus far, is the second tallest player in the NHL at a towering 6’8″, just an inch shorter than Bruins’ captain Zdeno Chara. Myers, in just his rookie season, is 3rd on the team in ice time, playing 20:48 per night.
  • Boston will welcome back ex-Bruin Steve Montador to the Garden tonight. Montador joined the Black & Gold at the trade deadline last season from Anaheim. Montador, who went to Buffalo in the offseason as a free agent, has three assists this year.

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