Bruins vs. Sabres Preview

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BUFFALO, NY (AP) - Although they were 3 seconds away from a shootout, the Boston Bruins were forced to swallow a difficult overtime defeat their last time out.

They may have dealt the Buffalo Sabres an even more painful loss in extra time last week.

The Bruins will try to bounce back and beat Buffalo for the fourth straight time as they begin a two-game road trip Wednesday night.

According to NHL odds and oddsmakers from online sports book have made the Sabres -118 money line favorites for Wednesday's game against the Bruins. Current NHL Public Betting Information shows that 78% of more than 95 bets for this game have been placed on the Sabres -118.

Boston's bid for a third consecutive win overall fizzled Saturday night when Philadelphia captain Mike Richards beat Tim Thomas with 3 seconds left in overtime, dealing the Bruins (16-8-4) a 2-1 loss.

The Sabres (12-14-4) won't have any sympathy after the way their Dec. 7 game at Boston finished. Mark Recchi tipped Dennis Seidenberg's slap shot past Ryan Miller and into the net, but the referees ruled no goal and play went on 49 more seconds before a whistle and a review, which resulted in a 3-2 Boston win.

"It's a gut-wrencher when you lose like that," Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said.

The Bruins have won six of their last seven against Buffalo, including part of the first-round playoff series they won in six games last spring.

Boston has gone 4-0-2 in its last six overall, pulling within two points of first-place Montreal in the Northeast Division. The brief trip concludes with a visit to the Bell Centre on Thursday night, but coach Claude Julien is trying to keep the focus on the Sabres.

"Although you are trying to catch up to Montreal, you've got to get through Buffalo," Julien said. "Our focus really has to be on the game (Wednesday) before we can even think about the game Thursday.

"But the Montreal game is going to be an important one if we make it an important one, and that will depend on how we do in Buffalo."

It's unclear if the Bruins will start Thomas, the NHL leader in winning percentage (14-2-3), goals-against average (1.51) and save percentage (.954), against the Sabres.

They may opt to rest him before the showdown with the Canadiens and start Tuukka Rask, who posted a 2.18 GAA against Buffalo in the playoffs, playing the entire series.

The Sabres are likely to stick with Miller, although the reigning Vezina Trophy winner has allowed 10 goals while going 1-1-1 in three starts since posting back-to-back shutouts against Columbus and Ottawa.

Ruff said games against playoff contenders are especially important as the Sabres try to climb back toward postseason position.

"Those teams that are just above us on the ladder, you've got to beat them when you get the opportunity," Ruff said.

Buffalo may get a boost as forwards Tim Connolly (groin), Drew Stafford (shoulder) and Rob Niedermayer (knee) all could return. Connolly and Niedermayer haven't played since Nov. 20, while Stafford has played once since Nov. 5.

The Bruins are relatively healthy, but they're hoping for more production out of Marc Savard in his sixth game since returning from post-concussion symptoms. Savard, who has at least one point in 21 of his last 25 games against Buffalo, has no goals and one assist this season.

"Every day is a work in progress, and right now it's headed in the right direction," Savard said. "Hopefully I can start contributing soon."

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