Montreal Canadiens: Habs and Sabres Square Off in Critical Four-Pointer
UPDATE - 12:47 pm
Per Habs Inside/Out, Ryan Miller will not get the start tonight for the first time in 32 games, and Jhonas Enroth will take his place with Patrick Lalime backing him up.
The Buffalo Sabres and the Montreal Canadiens square off tonight at the Bell Centre in their fifth of six match ups this season. The Canadiens hold the season advantage with a 3-0-1 record, with three of the four games being decided by one goal.
As such, you would expect these low-scoring teams to produce another tight game tonight.
The Canadiens, 5-3-2 in their last 10 games, come off a much-needed 3-0 win over the Leafs on Saturday, a match that ended a three-game losing streak. As such, the Habs will be eager to start a new winning streak in front of their home crowd tonight.
The Sabres, on the other hand, have been one of the hottest teams in the league, going 7-2-1 in their last 10 games, storming back to within four points of the eighth and final playoff spot in the East.
Buffalo has been winning with contributions throughout their lineup, as 11 players have at least two points in their last two games, and eight with three or more points over the same span.
As such, Montreal needs to stick to their strong defense to ensure that all four Buffalo lines are contained.
Montreal moved into fifth place in the East with a Washington Capitals loss last night—in virtue of the same number of points but two more wins. A victory tonight coupled with a loss by the Bruins, would vault the Habs into first place in the Northeast division with 70 points.
Buffalo has a chance to continue clawing their way into the playoff race tonight with a win putting them only two points out of the final playoff spot in the East. With the Thrashers, Hurricanes and Rangers all struggling to string together victories, the Sabres have a prime chance to continue closing the gap on their competition tonight.
Tonight's match between the Canadiens and Sabres should prove to be another great goaltending battle with Carey Price and Ryan Miller going head-to-head. That being said, the last time I said that, the Canadiens lost 8-6 to the Bruins, so you never know what will happen!
Miller is coming off a major blowout at the hands of the Islanders where he let in seven goals on 26 shots in a 7-6 overtime loss. As such, you'd expect him to bring his "A" game tonight in a bid to erase that embarrassing memory.
As for Price, he is coming off his sixth shutout of the season in a 3-0 victory over the Leafs. Price is currently tied for third in the league in that department and tied for second in the league for wins with 27.
Special Teams and Scoring
The Sabres rank a middling 15th in the goals-for department with 161, compared to the Canadiens' more anemic 21st overall (151). But it is in the goals-against department that there is a much bigger divide, with the Habs seventh overall (143 goals-against) holding a 19-goal advantage over the Sabres' 18th overall mark of 162.
With the Habs struggling to score but having a much tighter defensive scheme, it looks like it will be a tight game tonight that could be decided by a goal or two at most.
The last time these two teams played each other on January 18, the Canadiens lost Michael Cammalleri to a shoulder separation and Max Pacioretty to a James Wizniewski slapshot in the chest.
While Pacioretty didn't miss a game, Cammalleri hasn't played since.
Cammalleri practiced with the team yesterday but is still not taking contact, meaning that he will not be in the lineup tonight. He is eying a return for Sunday's Heritage Classic in Calgary.
Buffalo continues to be without the services of Derek Roy, on the injury reserve list due to surgery on his left quadriceps. The Habs, who have absolutely been decimated by injuries this season, should be getting Mathieu Darche back into the lineup but Hal Gill continues to skate by himself and will not see action.
Game time is 7:30 pm with the puck drop about 10 minutes later.
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