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BRUINS NOTEBOOK

Leading trio together again

Line changes give offense needed lift

Over the week, all the pieces fell into place for coach Dave Lewis to reunite Marco Sturm, Patrice Bergeron, and Brad Boyes, the top three guns from the 2005-06 squad, for last night's 5-4 shootout loss against the Buffalo Sabres.

Sturm, who injured his left knee Oct. 18 when he was hit by an errant Brad Stuart slap shot, had a good week of practice and was ready to go last night.

Phil Kessel, slotted at left wing for the first nine games, was moved to center, his natural position, during Monday's practice and showed Lewis he's ready to play at pivot.

Most important, the flickering Boston offense -- that of 19 goals in nine games -- needed a kick in the pants.

"We're still struggling scoring goals," Boyes said before last night's game. "Just figured, let's give it a try. Other things haven't been working. There's been so many combinations so far. We figured this is the last one to put back together again."

The shuffle led to four goals, but it wasn't the high-flying threesome from last year that looked the best.

The line of P.J. Axelsson, Marc Savard, and Glen Murray was the most dangerous Boston threesome. Savard had his best game as a Bruin, scoring a goal and two assists. In the first period during an odd-man rush, Savard faked a slapper, then pulled a pass to Axelsson, who slammed a one-timer past Ryan Miller.

In the second period, Savard scored his second goal of the season when he tucked home a rebound of a Bergeron point shot. Then Savard got an assist after Murray banged in a rebound of a slapper.

"[Savard] was very good," Lewis said. "I thought that line was very good. He's sort of the catalyst of that line. He made a tremendous pass to Axelsson on the one goal, scored his goal, and was important on the power play."

Savard ended with three shots, two takeaways, and 18 minutes 24 seconds of ice time over 25 shifts.

His first-line teammates looked comfortable as well. Sturm, Bergeron, and Boyes each had three shots. Bergeron and Boyes each recorded an assist.

"They generated chances," Lewis said. "They had some chances to put the game away. You could tell something was going on there."

Still a tie
Amid the gloom of the Boston dressing room last night, Tim Thomas took a positive outlook on last night's loss.

"We dominated one of the best teams in the league for 50 minutes of the game," said Thomas, who couldn't have done much to stop the Buffalo goals. "We had four goals and could have had seven."

Thomas reminded his questioners the Bruins still recorded a point.

"Tonight we tied that game against one of the best teams," Thomas said. "That's the way we have to look forward in getting a win [tomorrow]. It's a big step showing that we can play with these guys."

Historic number
After yesterday's morning skate, equipment manager Mark Dumas held up Savard's new jersey with No. 91 on the back, and the center nodded his approval. Savard, who started the season wearing No. 71, confirmed he's the first Bruin to wear No. 91 . . . Yan Stastny and Milan Jurcina were healthy scratches last night. Jurcina has played in only four games this season. In practice Wednesday, Jurcina brought down the hammer on a screaming slapper that conked Hannu Toivonen square on the squash, damaging his mask. "I had ringing in my ears all night," Toivonen said yesterday . . . Wayne Primeau, shifted to left wing on Boston's third line, took defensive-zone draws instead of Kessel . . . Nifty play by rookie Matt Lashoff in overtime to elude the check of defenseman Brian Campbell and set up Kessel for a potential winner. Kessel's shot went over the net.

Fluto Shinzawa can be reached at FShinzawa@globe.com.

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