The Buffalo Sabres will make their final visit to Montreal to face the Canadiens tonight. When these two clubs met ten days ago, the Sabres skated away with a 3-2 overtime victory. It was an exciting game highlighted by some spectacular play from the goaltenders Carey Price and Robin Lehner. Tonight will be the last meeting until the final week of the season in Buffalo.
Coming out of the All-Star break both clubs are looking to get back on a winning track. The Sabres dropped their final game before the break to the Dallas Stars, while the Canadiens came up short against the New York Islanders. In spite of the losses, the two teams went into the All-Star weekend feeling different about their games. The Canadiens have lost three of their last five games and were not playing nearly as well as they were in the beginning of the season.
The Sabres went into the break winners of three of their last four and were starting to believe they can get themselves back into the playoff conversation. They enter tonight’s game seven points back of the third-place Boston Bruins in the Atlantic Division and the Philadelphia Flyers who hold the final wild-card spot in the East.
Buffalo Sabres at Montreal Canadiens
Bell Centre – 7:30 p.m. EST
Broadcast channels – MSG-B, RDS & SNE
2016-17 Season Series: October 13th, Canadiens 4 Sabres 1 | January 21st, Sabres 3 Canadiens 2 (OT)
Montreal Canadiens – 29-14-7 – 65 Points
Home Record: 17-5-3
Hot Players: Alexander Radulov
Key Injuries: Alex Galchenyuk and Brendan Gallagher
Max Pacioretty – Phillip Danault – Alexander Radulov
Artturi Lehkonen – Thomas Plekanec – Paul Byron
Sven Andrighetto – David Desharnais – Andrew Shaw
Daniel Carr – Torrey Mitchell – Brian Flynn
Alexei Emelin – Shea Weber
Nathan Beaulieu – Jeff Petry
Andrei Markov – Nikita Nesterov
* Lines subject to change
Buffalo Sabres – 20-19-9 – 49 Points
Road Record: 9-11-6
Hot Players: Evander Kane and Brian Gionta
Key Injuries: Josh Gorges, Jake McCabe and Johan Larsson
Marcus Foligno – Jack Eichel – Sam Reinhart
Kyle Okposo – Ryan O’Reilly – Tyler Ennis
Evander Kane – Zemgus Girgensons – Brian Gionta
Matt Moulson – Cal O’Reilly – William Carrier
Rasmus Ristolainen – Dmitry Kulikov
Zach Bogosian – Cody Franson
Taylor Fedun – Justin Falk
** Lines subject to change.
1) David Desharnais and Andrei Markov are expected to return to the lineup tonight for the Canadiens. Desharnais has been out since Dec. 6th with a knee injury while Markov has been out since Dec. 17th with a knee injury of his own. Alex Galchenyk is close to returning, but won’t be ready tonight.
2) Nikita Nesterov will make his Canadiens debut tonight after being acquired from the Tampa Bay Lightning last week. Montreal bought low on Nesterov only having to part with a sixth round pick in 2017 and defenseman Jonathan Racine. The 23-year-old had three goals and 12 points in the 35 games for the Lightning this season.
3) When the Sabres and Canadiens met ten days ago in Montreal, goaltenders Price and Lehner stole the show. Both made spectacular saves late in the game. The two will guard the nets again tonight. Price has struggled recently, winning only one of his last five starts, while Lehner has won four of his last five.
4) Evander Kane goes into tonight’s contest as one of the hottest players in the league. He’s scored 14 goals in his last 25 games and has been the team’s most consistent player for the past two months. Since fully recovering from his fractured ribs, suffered at the beginning of the season, Kane has been exactly the type of player they were expecting to get when they traded for him two years ago.
5) The Sabres are looking to finish the month of January on a winning note. This has been their best month of the season going 7-4-1. A win tonight will mean they’ve picked up 65 percent of the points available in the month (17 of 26 points). At that pace, picking up 65 percent of possible points, they’ll enter April with roughly 87 points and will be in the playoff race.