Talking Points: Sabres 6, Bruins 0

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Talking Points: Sabres 6, Bruins 0

BUFFALO In the greatest piece of evidence yet that the Bruins are experiencing some serious issues, the Black and Gold suffered their worst beating of the season at the hands of the Sabres Wednesday night.

The Bruins were robbed of a Milan Lucic goal on a bad goalie-interference call in the first period, then didnt respond at all to an aggressive, desperate Sabres bunch in a 6-0 loss at the First Niagara Center.

It's the 11th time they've lost a game to a team down and out of the playoff race -- they've only lost 17 games all year -- and that screams to focus problems against bad teams.

There was serious trouble brewing when the Bs defense was burned for goals by Christian Ehrhoff and Jason Pominville in the first period, and then Tuukka Rask was yanked in the second period after a Tyler Ennis score.

Lucic dropped the gloves with Patrick Kaleta, and Shawn Thornton fought twice attempting to keep the Bruins emotionally invested. But it was all for naught by the time Kaleta beat Tim Thomas with a five-hole goal to spot the Sabres a 4-0 lead heading into the third period.

All that was left was for the villainous Kaleta to act up in the final minutes of the third period and draw 10-minute misconducts from Lucic and Adam McQuaid during a line brawl donnybrook in front of the Boston bench.

The Bruins are now 3-4-1 in their last eight games and havent put two solid, victorious efforts together back-to-back since prior to Christmas.

GOLD STAR: Shawn Thornton dropped the gloves twice iand showed exactly what he was all about while so many of his teammates floundered. His first fight, against Cody McCormick, attempted to set the emotional table for the Bruins, and his second-period brawl against Mike Weber was a direct move to stick up for Benoit Pouliot. Weber had taken a run at Pouliot as Pouliot was headed to the bench for a line change and instead Thornton dropped the Buffalo defenseman with three overhand lefty punches. He also finished with three shots on net in 7:14 of ice time.

BLACK EYE: David Krejci was finally reunited with Lucic in the third period after failing spectacularly during the first two periods on the third line. Krejci was on ice playing matador defense for a pair of Buffalo goals, lost 8-of-10 faceoffs, and was thoroughly invisible at the offensive end of the ice. Krejci said he would act like a professional no matter where he was in the lineup, but he didnt appear to be giving an honest-to-goodness effort in the lopsided loss to the Sabres.

TURNING POINT: It was 2-0 at the end of the first period, and the Bruins had played solid hockey while battling through a horrendous call that waved off a Lucic goal due to goalie interference. But Rask was beaten on an Ennis backhander that made it 3-0 less than two minutes into the second period, and the roof effectively caved in after that. The Bruins are able to remain relatively close in all of their games due to structured defense and elite-level goaltending, and both of those qualities eluded them over the final two periods against Buffalo.

HONORABLE MENTION: Patrick Kaleta is a despicable rat, but give him credit for getting under the skin of his opponents. He was able to draw Lucic into a five-minute fighting major and a 10-minute game misconduct in separate incidents while also potting a backbreaking goal in the second period. Kaleta looked like a fool raising his hands in celebration after getting pounded by a series of Lucic punches in the first period, but he got his team emotionally invested into the game. Thats Kaleta filling the agitator role.

BY THE NUMBERS: Minus-3 The final plusminus total for Zdeno Chara in 6-0 loss to the Sabres his worst plusminus mark of the season and his worst since a minus-4 against the Caps on Nov. 5, 2010.

QUOTE TO NOTE: Its definitely been a while since we had a loss like this. Maybe its for the best and its a wakeup call that shows we need to be better. It shows us we cant take any team lightly no matter what the reason. Milan Lucic on making some sense of getting pounded by the Sabres, 6-0.

Patriots-Steelers injury report: Seven Pats listed as questionable

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Patriots-Steelers injury report: Seven Pats listed as questionable

FOXBORO -- The Patriots will head into Sunday's AFC title game with seven players listed as questionable, including three receivers. 

Danny Amendola, Malcolm Mitchell and Chris Hogan have all been limited in practices this week due to their injuries. Amendola has been dealing with an ankle issue since a Week 13 win over the Rams, while Mitchell has not played since injuring his knee in Week 16 against the Jets. Hogan suffered a thigh injury against the Texans and left the game in the third quarter.

Both Hogan and Mitchell indicated this week that they were moving in the right direction in terms of their recoveries. One would think that the Patriots would need at least one, if not both, to help stress the back end of the Steelers secondary this weekend.

Hogan has been the team's most consistent down-the-field threat this season, averaging a whopping 17.9 yards per catch during the regular season. Against the Texans, before his injury, he reeled in four passes for 95 yards. 

Mitchell, meanwhile, had a very productive second half of his rookie season before he was hurt. He compiled 25 catches for 306 yards between Weeks 11 and 16, establishing himself as one of Tom Brady's go-to targets. 

The overall health of the Patriots receiving corps -- which will also include Julian Edelman and Michael Floyd -- will bear watching when the Patriots and Steelers kick off in two days.

The injury report for Sunday's Patriots-Steelers game:

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

QUESTIONABLE
WR Danny Amendola (ankle)
TE Martellus Bennett (knee)
RB Brandon Bolden (knee)
LB Dont'a Hightower (shoulder)
WR Chris Hogan (thigh)
WR Malcolm Mitchell (knee)
DL Jabaal Sheard (knee)

PITTSBURGH STEELERS

QUESTIONABLE
TE Ladarius Green (concussion/illness)
LB James Harrison (shoulder/triceps)
RB Fitzgerald Toussaint (concussion)

NOT LISTED
RB Le'Veon Bell (not injury related)
K Chris Boswell (illness)
LB Anthony Chickillo (ankle)
S Sean Davis (shoulder)
C B.J. Finney (illness)
WR Darrius Heyward-Bay (illness)
DE Ricardo Mathews (ankle)
QB Zach Mettenberger (illness)
S Michael Mitchell (not injury related)
QB Ben Roethlisberger (not injury related)
LB Vince Williams (shoulder)