There is so much on the line when the Sabres play the Bruins Wednesday night in Buffalo.
The two teams entered play Tuesday night tied with Toronto for the division lead. The Bruins are riding a nine-game winning streak.
But the focus of tonight’s game has nothing to do with wins and losses. It’s all about revenge.
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Tonight is the first meeting between the teams since Milan Lucic separated Sabres goalie Ryan Miller from his senses with a withering open-ice hit during a 6-2 Bruins victory Nov. 12 – No. 5 in the nine-game streak.
The hit brought a strong rebuke from Miller, who was diagnosed with a concussion and hasn’t played since.
“He runs me like that? It’s unbelievable,” Miller said after the game. “I respected him for how hard he played. That was gutless. Gutless.”
Lucic was deemed guiltless by league disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan, which further irked Miller, who was diagnosed with a concussion and hasn’t played since the hit. Perhaps irking Miller even further was the lack of retaliation by his teammates in the immediate aftermath.
That could be different tonight, much the way the Bruins had to wait for Matt Cooke to avenge Marc Savard in 2010.
The Bruins have no such agenda. In winning nine straight, the Bruins have scored 43 goals, with at least five goals in a game six times. But Monday in Montreal, it was goalie Tim Thomas who made the difference, making 33 saves in a 1-0 victory for his second straight shutout.
“We’ve played some better games,’’ said coach Claude Julien. “But what you like about it is you find a way to win. Tim was huge for us. He made some big saves. You take the win for what it is.”