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Bruins Notebook

Sabres’ Vanek likely out of Game 3 lineup

Thomas Vanek (26) grimaces after crashing into the boards in Game 2 on a play on which Johnny Boychuk (55) was penalized. Thomas Vanek (26) grimaces after crashing into the boards in Game 2 on a play on which Johnny Boychuk (55) was penalized. (Barry Chin/Globe Staff)
By Fluto Shinzawa
Globe Staff / April 19, 2010

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Buffalo’s Thomas Vanek, last seen in the first period of Saturday’s Game 2 of the Bruins-Sabres series skating off the HSBC Arena ice, placing no weight on his injured left leg, is not expected to dress tonight for Game 3. Vanek, who led the Sabres with 28 goals during the regular season, is hoping to return later in the series.

“I’m still hoping for [tonight] even though I know, deep down, it’s a stretch,’’ Vanek told the Buffalo News. “I would say Wednesday then. If it’s not Wednesday, then I don’t know. Maybe the next game. But the good part is that I feel like — and we feel like — I’ll be back for the series.’’

Vanek was injured at 13:39 of the first during a hooking call on Johnny Boychuk. The Bruins defenseman hooked Vanek with a backhand, but failed to slow the driving right wing. Boychuk then switched to his forehand and slashed Vanek on the right leg. The slash dropped Vanek and sent him sliding into the end boards.

Vanek scored the opening goal in Buffalo’s 2-1 Game 1 win. In Game 2, Vanek assisted on Tyler Myers’s first-period goal. Vanek had been skating with Tim Kennedy and Derek Roy.

Vanek joins Drew Stafford (concussion) on the sidelines. The Bruins are without Marc Savard (concussion), Dennis Seidenberg (forearm), and Mark Stuart (pinkie/hand).

“I don’t know what’s going to happen with [Vanek],’’ coach Claude Julien said after the Bruins’ optional practice at TD Garden yesterday. “I certainly don’t want to be speculating here and putting all my eggs in one basket that he’s not going to play next game. I think what’s gotten us here is how we’ve played, not who they’ve had in the lineup.

“They might be missing Vanek and they might be missing a couple players. So are we, when you talk about Savard and two defensemen that are in our top four. That’s just the reality of the game. If you spend your time worrying about what you haven’t got, you’re wasting your time preparing for what you’ve got.

“I’m going to concentrate on our team. If he plays [tonight], they’ll have a pretty good player back in their lineup. If they don’t, they’re missing a good player out of their lineup. But that’s their problem. Not ours.’’

Relief for Lucic
Things were already sour for Milan Lucic when he failed to step in front of Myers’s shot in the first period Saturday. But they turned downright rotten in the second when he tried to clear a puck behind his net and gave it away to Tyler Ennis, who in turn fed Jason Pominville for a go-ahead goal.

So nobody felt better than Lucic when Michael Ryder tied the game in the third and Zdeno Chara scored the go-ahead goal.

“I was obviously relieved after not making a strong play there on the third goal,’’ Lucic said. “Guys stuck together and bailed me out after the soft play I made there. It’s the playoffs here, so you can’t get frustrated. You definitely think more positive than negative. I wanted to redeem myself and have a strong third period. I felt like I did.’’

Lucic, who started the game with Patrice Bergeron and Mark Recchi, finished the day with Steve Begin and Shawn Thornton on the fourth line.

“I think where Milan sometimes gets himself into trouble is that he tries to accommodate the players that he plays with by making plays that aren’t necessarily to his strength,’’ Julien said. “I think what Milan has to do, and will do, is that he has to play his game. If he’s put on a certain line, it’s not to change his game. It’s to play his game when he feels his game will make that line that much better.

“When he’s strong on the puck and has a good physical presence, we know he can certainly create some havoc and create some space for other players. But he doesn’t need to make fancy plays, because that’s not necessarily the strength of his game. He’s got to play within his strengths.’’

Perfect so far
The Bruins are 9 for 9 on the penalty kill in the series. Daniel Paille led all forwards with 3:11 of shorthanded time, followed by Begin (3:07). “We’ve done a good job on the forecheck,’’ Bergeron said. “They didn’t get too many controlled entries. In-zone, I think we’ve tried to get in the shooting and passing lanes. So far it’s been good. But they’re going to make some adjustments on their side as well. We’ve got to be ready for whatever they’re going to throw at us.’’ . . . Thornton, Adam McQuaid, and Tim Thomas joined the healthy scratches on the ice yesterday. All other players went through off-ice workouts.

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

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