The Bruins remain in fourth place in the MassMutual East standings with 56 points and a 25-12-6 overall record through 43 games. While Boston currently sits three points back of the Pittsburgh Penguins for third place, the Bruins have two games in hand and enter the week riding a four-game winning streak. Meanwhile, Buffalo has compiled just 31 points and a 12-26-7 overall record in 45 games, including a disappointing 5-14-4 record at the KeyBank Center.
Can the Bruins stay hot on the road against the lowly Sabres on Tuesday evening?
Halak set to return soon for BruinsBoston pushed its current winning streak to four games with a 6-3 victory over the Washington Capitals on Sunday. David Krejci, Patrice Bergeron, and Brad Marchand each scored two goals apiece for the Bruins in the win. Tuukka Rask stopped 30 of 33 shots on the night to earn the win.
Special teams have been an area of strength for the Bruins all season long. Boston ranks 10th in the league with a power-play percentage of 22.0 percent and they’ve been even better with a man in the penalty box. The Bruins have killed off a league-high 85.7 percent of their penalties this season while also ranking first in the NHL with eight shorthanded goals.
Jaroslav Halak could be back between the pipes for the Bruins as soon as Tuesday night. The 35-year-old is 9-5-3 with a 2.44 GAA and .910 save percentage in 17 games (16 starts) this season. Halak hasn’t played since the beginning of the month but recently cleared COVID-19 protocols. He returned to the ice over the weekend and will join the team on its upcoming road trip. Prior to coming down with the coronavirus, Halak had been struggling, allowing four goals or more in three of his last four starts. In his only start of the year against the Sabres, Halak stopped 23 of 24 shots to earn the win. In 16 career starts versus Buffalo, he is 13-3-0 with a 2.06 GAA and .924 save percentage in those matchups.
Granato helping salvage Sabres' season with strong finishBuffalo improved to 3-1-1 over its last five games with a 4-2 victory versus the Pittsburgh Penguins on Sunday evening. Sam Reinhart scored twice while goaltender Dustin Tokarski stopped 34 of 36 shots to help the Sabres play spoiler in the division race. Arttu Ruotsalainen and Rasmus Asplund also scored for the Sabres while Victor Olofsson and Ramus Dahlin finished with two assists apiece in the win, which marked Buffalo’s first regulation win over the Penguins since Feb. 19, 2012.
With essentially nothing left to play for, interim head coach Don Granato has injected life into the Sabres down the stretch of the regular season. He’s put an added emphasis on speed and forechecking and the franchise has looked much better since snapping a season-low 18-game losing streak. Since snapping the skid, Buffalo is 6-3-2 and 6-8-3 overall with Granato on the bench.
The Sabres are scheduled to turn to Dustin Tokarski for his eighth start of the season on Tuesday. The 31-year-old is 2-5-2 with a 3.15 GAA and .914 save percentage in nine games (seven starts) this year but he’s been trending up as of late. The career journeyman has played four different franchises in six NHL seasons but may have found a home in Buffalo. Tokarski has won two of his last three starts while posting a .924 save percentage over his last five games. In his only start of the year versus the Bruins, Tokarski stopped 29 of 31 shots in a shootout loss.
Best Bets for this Game
Full-Game Side Bet
The Bruins seem to have settled into a groove since the trade deadline but the Sabres have proven that they simply aren’t going to lay down for the final 11 regular-season games. Buffalo actually has a winning record since snapping its 18-game slide and the Sabres may have found something with Tokarski between the pipes. The 31-year-old performed well in his last start against the Bruins and has posted a strong .927 save percentage over his last five starts. Meanwhile, Halak hasn’t started a game in over a month and the Bruins could experience a letdown after winning three straight against the top two teams in the division. Take Buffalo to come out on top at home in this MassMutual East showdown on Tuesday night.
Full-Game Total Pick
These two teams are projected for 5.5 goals but that number seems a bit high here. As good as the Bruins have played as of late, they’ve scored more than three goals just two times in their last six games. Halak has had a ton of success against the Sabres throughout his career while Tokarski enters playing arguably the best hockey of his life, which bodes well for a low-scoring game in this spot. These two teams have combined for exactly five goals in each of their first three meetings. Take the under in this matchup on Tuesday evening.