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The Bruins will look to take a commanding 3-1 advantage in their opening round series against the Sabres tonight, hosting Buffalo at TD Garden for Game 4. Boston will aim at building from their huge Game 3 win, when with the help of a late Patrice Bergeron goal, the B’s took their first lead of the series, and now can push the higher-seeded Sabres to the brink of elimination with another victory this evening.
Bruins headlines since Monday’s Game 3 win have centered around the improving health of center Marc Savard, who has taken to the ice this week for the first time since suffering a concussion on March 7th, thanks to a high hit to the head from Pittsburgh’s Matt Cooke. Savard, who passed a neuro-psych exam yesterday, could begin practicing with the team later this week. He will not see action tonight, but if all goes well and he gets proper medical clearance, Savard could be added to the lineup later on in the series.
Buffalo is also battling through injuries to some of their top performers as well. The team’s leading scorer Thomas Vanek, who missed Monday’s Game 3 with a left leg injury, rejoined the team at their morning skate today and felt good. Head coach Lindy Ruff is terming Vanek as a “game-time decision,” but my feeling is he’ll likely play, even if he’s at 80%-90%. The Sabres will however, be without another forward, Matt Ellis, whose sore shoulder and broken nose will cause him to be out of the lineup tonight for Game 4. Ellis sustained these bumps and bruises as a recipient of a hard open-ice hit by Boston’s Johnny Boychuk in the second period of Monday’s tilt. Replacing Ellis in the lineup will be AHL call-up Cody McCormick, who physical, brash style of play could lend to some agitated exchanges between the two squads this evening.
Let’s dive in a little further and check out a few other pre-game notes, heading into tonight’s big game…