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Lucic can’t fight, so he pounds one in

Milan Lucic’s first goal of the year, set up by an excited Byron Bitz, got the Bruins on the board. Milan Lucic’s first goal of the year, set up by an excited Byron Bitz, got the Bruins on the board. (Rick Stewart/Getty Images)
By Kevin Paul Dupont
Globe Staff / November 21, 2009

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BUFFALO - Milan Lucic was back at work last night, playing his second game in as many nights after fracturing his right index finger Oct. 16, but it will be a while before the hulking left winger is able to use all his tools.

One of the game’s best and most feared pugilists, Lucic won’t be able to perform the sweet science for at least another month.

“No, can’t fight,’’ said Lucic, intent on following doctor’s orders, which will have him out of the fight game until the first of the new year. “The injury was five weeks ago [yesterday] and then the surgery was that following Sunday. So, five weeks gone, and it will be another 4-6 weeks, I guess, for the fracture to solidify.’’

Meanwhile, Lucic skated with new linemates Steve Begin and Byron Bitz and scored the Bruins only goal in regulation, a pretty two-on-one finish with Bitz in the second period. Lucic had 13:40 of ice time, had one shot and a team-high four hits, one of them a steamer on Henrik Tallinder deep in the Buffalo end only 30 seconds into the first period.

“He had his head down a little bit there,’’ explained Lucic. “It’s good to get a hit like that to get you into the flow of the game.’’

Shawn Thornton, who normally occupies the left side on the Begin line, rode instead with ex-Sabre Danny Paille and Vladimir Sobotka.

Lucic didn’t end up on the score sheet Thursday night, but he landed two shots on net, delivered one hit, and logged a respectable 14:01 in ice time.

“My first time ever with those guys,’’ said Lucic. “They’re easy to play with, keep it simple, so we’re just three hard-working guys out there. If we keep our feet moving, make soft dumps, go hard on the forecheck and take the body, we’ll be OK.’’

For extra protection, Lucic is wearing a small pad inside his glove, covering the point of fracture on the finger.

“I can tell it’s in there, but I can still get off my shot,’’ said Lucic, who was 0-3 -3 in six games before exiting the lineup. “Now I have to show that I can shoot it hard while it’s on there. At this point last year, I had four goals . . . I’ve got to get that going a little bit.’’

Savard eyes Monday
Marc Savard, trying to return from a fractured bone in his left foot, now has tuned up his legs and hands two days in a row. He was among five Bruins to work out here under assistant coach Doug Houda, along with Trent Whitfield, Johnny Boychuk, Brad Marchand, and Tim Thomas. Look for Savard to be back in the lineup Monday night in St. Louis.

“That will give him a total of 4-5 days to get ready,’’ said coach Claude Julien. “He should be ready to go.’’

Savard reported feeling strong and ready for action, but Julien wanted the veteran pivot to wait one more game, in hopes of avoiding a groin or hamstring injury that many players experience when returning from the disabled list.

Rask a man of action
Tuukka Rask made his third straight start in the Boston net, an unexpected run for the 22-year-old. Thomas, who was slated to start in Atlanta, had to pull out because of an undisclosed (but minor) injury. Thomas remained the backup here, with Rask getting his eighth start.

“It’s a confidence-booster,’’ said Rask, who made 25 saves last night. “It’s always good, you know, to get in a couple of games in a row like that than to take two weeks off between games. It gives you a rhythm . . . builds your confidence.’’

Practice sessions are fine, said Rask, but they’re not nearly as valuable as game action.

“So much of practice for us has been all about goal scoring,’’ he said. “It’s tough to get game-like situations in practice, and if you are off 12 days between [starts], it can make it tough to be pumped and focused.’’

It was the first time this season that Rask made three straight starts.

Minor moves
The Bruins placed Whitfield on waivers and assigned Marchand to Providence (AHL). Provided no one picks up Whitfield for his waiver fee ($3,375) by noon today, he’ll join Marchand on the road back to the minors today.

“He did a good job,’’ said Julien, referring to Marchand’s contribution with the varsity. “He had a good training camp with us, but he tapered off after a while. But he got some experience and that’s good, he can bring that back to Providence with him and build off of that.

“I think he lost some of his confidence with the puck, just wasn’t as creative with it as he had been. But I thought he did a good job for us on the penalty kill.’’

Hit men
The Sabres led the way in hits, 29-22, and they also won 57 percent of the faceoffs. For the Bruins, Begin lost 8 of 13 draws, a 62 percent failure rate . . . The clubs each landed 26 shots on net. The Bruins attempted 56 on the night, seven more than the Sabres . . . After potting two goals the night before in Atlanta, Michael Ryder had a quiet night, hitting Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller with only one of the two shots he took . . . Patrick Kaleta (7) and Paul Gaustad (6) led the hit list for the Sabres . . . Ex-Bruin Steve Montador landed only one shot with his 17:48 of ice time . . . The Bruins will eschew today’s workout, but will be back at practice in Wilmington tomorrow before flying to St. Louis.

Kevin Paul Dupont can be reached at dupont@globe.com.

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