NHL Hockey

Sabres-Bruins Preview

The Buffalo Sabres have relied heavily on their top line this season. The trio of Jack Eichel, Jeff Skinner and Sam Reinhart has combined for 52 of the team's 116 goals.

Even without Eichel, the team's leading scorer who was scratched with an upper-body injury Thursday, the Sabres snapped a three-game losing streak with a 4-3 victory against Florida. Skinner scored twice, including his team-leading 28th goal. Reinhart had a goal and an assist.

Goaltender Linus Ullmark made 35 saves.

"This is contribution by committee," Sabres coach Phil Housley said afterward. "I thought everybody played a very strong game within the minutes that they got."

Housley said the Sabres will be without Eichel again Saturday when they play at the Boston Bruins.

"It's a day-to-day situation, which is really encouraging," Housley told NHL.com. "But we want to be cautious with it as well. There's a lot of hockey to be played."

The Sabres are 5-7-4 since their franchise record-tying 10-game winning streak.

"I don't think we're a fragile group, though," Skinner said told NHL.com. "Obviously we haven't gotten the results the past little while that we'd like, but it's a tough league. You're going to go through those stretches. You have to stick to your game, take out the positives in them and build off them."

The Sabres (22-13-6) and Bruins (23-14-4) each have 50 points in the Atlantic Division.

The Bruins have won three in a row, including a 4-2 victory over Chicago in the Winter Classic at Notre Dame Stadium on New Year's Day and a 6-4 victory at home Thursday against the Western Conference-leading Calgary Flames, in which Jake DeBrusk and Brad Marchand each scored twice.

Marchand has 20 points (eight goals, 12 assists) in his past 12 games.

The Bruins have reached the midpoint of their season and are on pace for 100 points despite having suffered numerous injuries. Boston played for more a month without defenseman Zdeno Chara and forward Patrice Bergeron, and defenseman Charlie McAvoy has appeared in only 17 games because of two different injuries.

"Well, I feel good about it, to be honest with you," Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy told NHL.com. "I mean, right now we're halfway through the year -- Game 41 -- and we're at 50 points. ... We'd like to think we'll get better, simply because a lot of the guys that were out that are key contributors are now healthy, and the only one left is Charlie."

The Bruins will now be without forward Joakim Nordstrom, who suffered a non-displaced fibula fracture after blocking a shot in the Winter Classic. Nordstrom is expected to miss at least three weeks.

"We had a lot of injuries early on," Marchand told NHL.com. "It's tough to really get a good look at your group when so many guys are out consistently, but the last little bit we've had a majority of the guys back in the lineup, and I think we're starting to feel a little good about our game."

Updated January 4, 2019

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