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Preview: Sabres host Bruins for Saturday evening matchup

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Third of fourth meetings between Buffalo & Boston this season

Buffalo Sabres v Boston Bruins Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

Game 39

Buffalo Sabres (21-12-5) vs Boston Bruins (20-14-4)

Season Series: 1-1

Puck Drop: 7:00 PM | KeyBank Center | Buffalo, NY

TV: MSG-B

Radio: WGR 550

SB Nation Bruins blog: Stanley Cup of Chowder

Know Your Opponent

Boston Bruins

Record: (20-14-4) | 44 points

Last 10: 6-4-0

Division Ranking: 5th in the Atlantic Division

Conference Ranking: 8th in the Eastern Conference

PP: 5th (26.7%)

PK: 19th (78.6%)

What to watch for

1. Missing (Not) In Action

Several players from both sides are expected to be out for tonight’s game. The Sabres recalled goaltender Scott Wedgewood from the Rochester Americans early Saturday morning, which likely means Linus Ullmark is still not well enough to back up. That’ll mean Carter Hutton starts in goal.

Jason Pominville is still out after his collision with Rasmus Ristolainen, while Scott Wilson, Casey Nelson & Nathan Beaulieu are also still out. For the Bruins, expect their lineup to be missing David Backes (suspended) and Charlie McAvoy (injured). Brad Marchand missed practice on Friday and is unlikely to play Saturday with an upper-body injury.

Off the ice, fans watching tonight’s game from home should hear Rick Jeanneret back on the action on MSG and WGR550. It’ll be good to hear/see RJ back in action.

2. Penalty-Killing Power

The Sabres have had some success on the penalty kill lately. Over the last ten games, they’ve killed 96.4% of their penalties (27-for-28). It’s their best in a 10-game stretch since October 15 to November 5, 2011.

It’s also the first time the Sabres have allowed one or fewer power-play goals in a 10-game stretch since 2012.

3. “It’s only going to get harder.”

The Sabres face a tough road ahead. After tonight’s game against Boston, the Sabres host the New York Islanders on New Year’s Eve. Other upcoming opponents include the Bruins once again as well as the Florida Panthers. As teams fight to climb up the standings in hopes of securing a playoff spot, Phil Housley, Jack Eichel, Kyle Okposo and Pominville all reflected on the same thought - it’s only going to get harder.

Buffalo Sabres

Forwards (unconfirmed)

Jeff Skinner - Jack Eichel - Sam Reinhart

Conor Sheary - Vladimir Sobotka - Evan Rodrigues

Remi Elie - Casey Mittelstadt - Kyle Okposo

Zemgus Girgensons - Johan Larsson - Tage Thompson

Defense

Rasmus Dahlin - Zach Bogosian

Lawrence Pilut - Rasmus Ristolainen

Marco Scandella - Jake McCabe

Starting Goaltender: Carter Hutton

Boston Bruins

Forwards

Danton Heinen - Patrice Bergeron - David Pastrnak

Joakim Nordstrom - David Krejci - Jake DeBrusk

Ryan Donato - Colby Cave - Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson

Sean Kuraly - Noel Acciari - Chris Wagner

Defense

Zdeno Chara - Brandon Carlo

Torey Krug - John Moore

Matt Grzelcyk - Kevan Miller

Steven Kampfer

Starting Goaltender: Tuukka Rask