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Canadiens are happy to be in Buffalo

Friday, 02.06.2009 / 4:00 PM / Game-Day Skate

By Adam Kimelman - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

The Montreal Canadiens have just two wins in their last seven games, but they'll see a friendly foe when they travel to Buffalo tonight (7:30 p.m. ET, TSN, RDS).

The Canadiens have won two of three meetings between the teams this season and seven of the last 11 dating back to last season.

Montreal also has won two straight at HSBC Arena, but the Sabres enter with a four-game home winning streak.

Other games tonight include the Blue Jackets in Pittsburgh (7:30 p.m. ET, NHLN-CA); the Devils are in Atlanta looking to start another streak following the end of their eight-game march that ended Tuesday; the Predators hit Minnesota looking for their fourth straight win; and the Rangers are in Dallas.

Here's what to watch for:

* The Sabres have alternated wins and losses over their last seven games. Their four wins in that span have included two shutouts and two games where they allowed two goals. Sabres goalie Ryan Miller has posted shutouts in his last two starts.

* In six starts against the Sabres, Canadiens goalie Carey Price is 4-1-1 with a 1.96 goals-against average and .938 save percentage.

* The Blue Jackets are 10th in the Western Conference, but just four points behind fifth-place Anaheim. Columbus is the only current NHL team never to make the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Penguins, the defending Eastern Conference champions, are 10th in the Eastern Conference, but just three points behind eighth-place Florida.

* Despite their arenas being just three hours apart, this will be the first time Pittsburgh and Columbus have played since Oct. 21, 2006 -- a 5-3 Penguins win in Pittsburgh.

* Evgeni Malkin, who scored the overtime winner to cap the Penguins' 4-3 come-from-behind win against Tampa Bay on Wednesday, has 9 goals and 10 assists in his last 13 games.

* Columbus goalie Steve Mason, a front-runner for this season's Calder Trophy, is second on the League with a 2.09 GAA and is first with seven shutouts. Tonight, would be his 19th straight start, despite team doctors diagnosing him with mononucleosis, which he has had for about a month.

* Devils captain Jamie Langenbrunner, who had just 8 goals in his first 46 games, has 7 goals in his last four, including three straight two-goal games, during which he scored the game-winning goal in each contest.

* Zach Parise, who leads the Devils with 29 goals and 59 points, has 4 goals and 5 assists during a season-high seven-game point streak. He also has 7 goals and 4 assists in his last 12 games against the Thrashers.

* Expect to see Kari Lehtonen in net for the Thrashers tonight. He's 5-3-0 with a 2.83 GAA in eight starts against the Devils, including a 29-save shutout Jan. 8 in New Jersey.

* The Wild are 15-9-3 at home, but will have a chance the rest of the month to improve that number. Of their next 11 games in February, seven of them will be at Xcel Energy Center. Minnesota enters tonight's game with two straight home victories.

 
* Niklas Backstrom should be in net for the Wild tonight. He's 5-0-0 with a 2.58 GAA in five games against the Predators. Opposing him for the Predators likely will be Pekka Rinne, who has won his last three starts while allowing two goals or fewer in each of them.

* Jason Arnott, who leads the Predators with 18 goals -- including goals in two straight games -- has 4 goals and 18 points in 24 games against the Wild.

* The Stars are aiming for their fourth straight home win. Tonight starts a stretch where Dallas will play 10 of its next 12 games at American Airlines Center.

* The Rangers will try to avoid a fourth straight loss. They're 0-2-1 in their last three games and have just three goals in that span. Markus Naslund scored a game-tying goal with 10.7 seconds left in regulation Tuesday against Atlanta, a game they eventually lost in a shootout.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com.
Quote of the Day

They said, 'You're going to love the city. It's smaller than Philadelphia, but you're going to love it. You're going to love the fans. Just watching the playoffs last year, the fans seemed louder there than they did anywhere. I'm really excited about that.

— Forward Scott Hartnell on his upcoming season with the Columbus Blue Jackets