Boston Bruins forward Craig Smith will play Thursday night against the Buffalo Sabres. Smith had a COVID testing issue but apparently, it has been cleared up as the Bruins winger took to the ice for warmups with his teammates prior to the 7:08 PM ET start at TD Garden.
— Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) April 29, 2021
The Boston Bruins (28-14-6, 62 pts) will welcome the Buffalo Sabres (13-30-7, 33 pts) to TD Garden tonight for a two-game set that concludes Saturday afternoon on Legends Way and will conclude the 2021 regular season between the two East Division clubs.
The Bruins and more specifically, goalie Tuukka Rask, will be looking to atone for one of their worst performances of the season in a 6-4 loss to the Sabres in Buffalo last Friday. Rask was pulled a minute into the third period after allowing four goals on 28 shots. He was replaced by Jaro Halak, who stopped four of five shots as the Bruins made a last-ditch comeback but fell short. After rookie goalie Jeremy Swayman started Sunday in a 1-0 Bruins loss to the Penguins, Rask was back between the pipes Tuesday to help his team snap a two-game losing streak with a 25-save performance in a 3-1 Bruins win.
“I thought he was solid in there. I thought we were the better team, honestly, early on,” head coach Bruce Cassidy said after the win. “Got ourselves into a little penalty trouble in the first period, but 5-on-5 were real good. He made a big save on a rebound that actually deflected off our guy in the first period, I think on [Zach] Aston-Reese. But other than that, I thought we kept it clean in front of him.
“Too bad we couldn’t have got him the zero there with the kind of defenseman change at the inappropriate time,” Cassidy said of losing the shutout. “But it’s still a win in a tough building to win in; a tough building for any team in this league and for us over the years obviously. Good to see him bounce back from the game in Buffalo and full value for the win tonight.”
That loss to the Sabres has been Rask’s only defeat in five games since returning to the lineup on April 15. Rask is 12-4-2 with a 2.29 GAA and a .915 save percentage.
-Boston Bruins forward Craig Smith did not skate this morning due to COVID testing issues but took warmups and will play tonight. Smith has four goals and 13 points in the month of April. If Smith couldn’t go, then Jake DeBrusk, who has one goal and three assists during that span and hasn’t scored a goal since April 10, would’ve gone in. Instead, DeBrusk is a healthy scratch again.
-Since being traded to the Bruins from the Sabres on April 11, forward Taylor Hall has four goals and three assists in nine games. Clearly, Hall is finding his game again and according to him, one of the reasons is playing meaningful games at this point in the season.
“Unfortunately, in my career, I’ve had a lot of games late in the season that didn’t really mean much. To now potentially play in the playoffs and have meaningful shifts every game where when you score a goal it’s important to the team, that’s been a lot of fun,” Hall said after scoring in the win in Pittsburgh on Tuesday.
-Hall’s new linemate David Krejci has five goals and four assists since Hall was put on his line on April 13 in a 3-2 shootout win over the Sabres. Krejci two goals and two assists in his last four games.
-The Boston Bruins are 4-0-0 in their last four home games and 14-6-3 in the friendly confines of TD garden this season.
-This is the seventh of eight games against the Sabres for the Boston Bruins. They play their longtime rivals tonight and Saturday in Boston to finish the season series. After going 3-0-0 against the Sabres last season, the Bruins are now 5-1-0 against their normal Atlantic Division and old Adams Division rivals.
–The Bruins’ powerplay went 0-for-1 on Tuesday. They are now 29-for-140 on the man advantage this season. They’re 14th in the NHL with a 20.7% success rate.
-The PK killed off all three of the Penguins’ powerplays on Thursday. They’re once again best in the NHL with an 86.1% success rate. They’ve killed off 142 of 165 powerplay attempts against them this season.
-Defenseman Brandon Carlo skated in a full-contact jersey at the game-day skate on Thursday. Cassidy told the media after the skate that they’re aiming for a potential Carlo return Monday or Tuesday in Newark, NJ against the New Jersey. Fellow rearguard John Moore is out for the season after undergoing hip surgery. Forward Ondrej Kase is still listed as week-to-week with an upper-body injury but has been skating.
-Since being traded from the Boston Bruins to the Sabres on April 11, Anders Bjork has a goal and three assists in nine games with his new team.
-Sabres forward Casey Mittelstadt has eight goals and five assists in his last 16 games.
-After making 36 saves and earning his first NHL career win in a 6-4 Sabres win over the Bruins last Friday, Sabres rookie goalie Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen will get the nod against the B’s again tonight. Luukkonen is 1-1-0 with a 3.58 GAA and .914 save percentage.
-The Sabres powerplay is ranked 14th in the NHL with a 20.7 % success rate. They’re 29-for-140 on the man advantage.
-The Sabres penalty kill has a 78.1 % success rate and is ranked 19th in the NHL. They’ve killed off 100 of 128 powerplay attempts against.
-Sabres captain and Chelmsford, MA native Jack Eichel (neck), is out for the season. Sabres left winger Zemgus Girgensons is out indefinitely with a hamstring injury. Forward Kyle Okposo recently suffered a facial injury that will keep him out for the remainder of the season. Between the pipes, Carter Hutton and Linus Ullmark are week-to-week with lower-body injuries. Forward Cody Eakin (personal) is day-to-day.
Boston Bruins Lines
Brad Marchand – Charlie Coyle – David Pastrnak
Taylor Hall – David Krejci – Craig Smith
Trent Frederic – Sean Kuraly – Jake DeBrusk
Nick Ritchie – Curtis Lazar – Chris Wagner
Matt Grzelcyk – Charlie McAvoy
Mike Reilly – Kevan Miller
Jeremy Lauzon – Steven Kampfer
Buffalo Sabres Lines
Jeff Skinner – Sam Reinhart – Victor Olofsson
Rasmus Asplund – Casey Mittelstadt – Arttu Ruotsalainen
Anders Bjork – Dylan Cozens – Drake Calligua
Tobias Reider-Riley Sheahan – Tage Thompson
Mattias Samuelsson- Rasmus Ristolainen
Rasmus Dahlin-Henri Jokiharju
Jacob Bryson – William Borgen