BOSTON -- The Boston Bruins are on the verge of producing a complete 60-minute effort. Their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series against the Buffalo Sabres is tied at 1-1 with Game 3 at 7 p.m. tonight at the TD Garden. The Bruins are hoping their first period struggles in both Games 1 and 2 are now a thing of the past.
“We have to have a better start,” said Bruins forward David Krejci. “The first two games we were sloppy. Maybe we were waiting to see what they were going to throw at us. Now we know and we’re playing in our building and we have to be ready from the first minute.”
In the first two games, the Bruins completely dominated the second period. After an impressive 5-3 victory in Game 2 on Saturday, Boston has momentum and has an opportunity to build on that tonight.
“Tonight will be a big game if we can get a second win,” said Krejci. “It’s important for us to do something here tonight.”
Here are some other notes from this morning’s skate:
STAFFORD IN/VANEK OUT FOR SABRES: Buffalo forward Drew Stafford, who has been out of action the last couple of weeks due to a concussion, will be in the lineup for the Sabres tonight, according to coach Lindy Ruff. The coach believes Stafford is 80 to 90 percent prepared for game action.
“We were racking him up to play on Saturday, but the test results didn’t go our way,” said Ruff.
Thomas Vanek walked into the Garden this morning, sporting a walking cast on his left leg. Ruff said after Buffalo’s skate that Vanek, the team’s top goal scorer during the regular season, will not play in Game 3.
Vanek left Game 2 in the first period on Saturday after crashing into the boards behind Boston’s net. He was on a breakaway when Bruins defenseman Johnny Boychuk broke up the play before both slammed into the boards. Boychuk said he was just trying to make a hockey play, and Bruins coach Claude Julien concurs.
Boston’s coach was asked about the play this morning, and he said he’s ready to turn the page.
“I don’t think he was over aggressive,” said Julien. “He did a hockey play. I think it’s pretty obvious and I don’t want to dwell on this stuff. Vanek got hurt going into the boards. It’s his left leg and not his right, so he got hurt [crashing into the boards].
“It’s pretty obvious those are things that happen in the game of hockey. We all have injuries on every team, so let’s turn the page and move on. I don’t think [Boychuk] was over aggressive. He’s played well for us and I think that’s where we see Johnny Boychuk being a pretty good defenseman for us.”
SAVARD’S PRESENCE FELT: It was clear the presence of Marc Savard on the ice and in the dressing room was a welcome sign for the Bruins. Savard, who suffered a Grade 2 concussion on March 7 in Pittsburgh, passed an exertion test on Sunday and skated on his own for 30 minutes on Monday. He’s scheduled for a neuro-psyche test on Tuesday afternoon and if he passes it, he will be cleared to practice with the team. There is a possibility he could return later in this series.
“As far as spirits go, it’s good to see that he’s not looking like a ghost anymore,” said Bruins pugilist Shawn Thornton. “He looks a lot healthier, which is nice. To see him smiling again is great. You never want to see anyone hurt like that, so to see him bounce back is pretty exciting.”