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Game Day - Sabres - March 10

by Staff Writer / Montréal Canadiens

- The Canadiens held an optional skate at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard on Thursday morning ahead of their game against the Buffalo Sabres at the Bell Centre.

- As confirmed by head coach Michel Therrien on Wednesday, Mike Condon will get the start in goal against Buffalo. It will mark Condon’s third career start – and fourth career appearance – versus the Sabres. Condon boasts a 2.69 goals-against average and a .913 save percentage against Dan Bylsma’s contingent. When the two squads last met on February 12 in Buffalo, the Holliston, MA native came on in relief of Ben Scrivens in a 6-4 defeat.

Condon hit the ice about 15 minutes before the rest of the group to work on lateral movement drills with a medicine ball. He then warmed up with goaltending coach Stephane Waite.

- Lars Eller’s status for Thursday night’s contest remains uncertain. After skating with his teammates, the Canadiens’ No. 81 indicated that a decision would be made prior to the game.

“It’s a possibility that I might play. It’s a game-time decision. For me, it’s been one practice at a time, one skate at a time to see how I feel. I feel good enough now to be a possibility to play tonight,” said Eller, who missed Tuesday night’s game against the Dallas Stars due to injury. “There’s no grey zone right now. If I feel good enough to play, they’ll know.”

- The Sabres’ line of Evander Kane, Jack Eichel and Sam Reinhart is playing solid hockey right now. Over the course of their last four games, they’ve combined for 13 points and scored six of Buffalo’s 13 goals during that span.

“They’re like any other team with a good line. You have to limit their space and we have to use our sticks the right way. Guys like that will always find a way to get their chances, but our job is to limit them,” explained Mark Barberio, who stressed the importance of keeping a close eye on rookie sensation Jack Eichel on Thursday night. “A guy like Eichel is fast and has good hands. You have to deny him space, especially in the neutral zone.”

- While things haven’t been going well for the Canadiens on the road, Michel Therrien’s troops have been enjoying success at the Bell Centre. They haven’t dropped a game in regulation time on home turf in their last seven outings, and have come up short just once during that span in a shootout loss to the Nashville Predators on February 22.

“It’s tremendous to play at the Bell Centre. Since the first game I got here, it’s something special. I even remember when I was 18 years old and there were no exhibition games that year. It was a full house to start the year. It was unbelievable. I’ll never forget that,” said Alex Galchenyuk, who has nine goals in his last eight games.

“Showing up to play in front of our fans is an honor. They’re fully behind us. Hockey is like a religion here in Montreal. It’s awesome to be a part of. It’s something that I cherish. It’s a dream come true to play here,” added Galchenyuk, who ranks fourth on the team with 44 points on the year.

- After playing six games so far during his most recent call-up from St. John’s, Michael McCarron is feeling more and more comfortable in his role with the CH.

“I feel a bit better going into game days now. It’s not as nerve-wracking. I kind of know what to expect and things are starting to go smoother,” said McCarron, who is quickly grasping the noticeable differences between the AHL and NHL ranks. “It’s a lot more taxing on your body. You’ve really got to take care of yourself a lot more. It’s a fast game. You’ve got to come prepared for every game.”

Those differences extend to the systems the Canadiens employ, too.

“The systems are set in place. If you don’t follow it, you’re not going to play. Everyone is in the right position at all times. They know what you’re going to do in all situations,” explained McCarron. “You’re not trying to cover for anybody else. You’re just trying to do your job and it does flow a lot smoother.”

- Before the on-ice session got underway, defenseman Nathan Beaulieu hit the ice once again sporting all of his equipment. For their part, Daniel Carr and Brian Flynn continued their rehab work sporting just their tracksuits, skates and helmets.

- Robin Lehner will get the start in goal for Buffalo.

- Puck drop is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. EST. The game will be broadcast on Rogers Sportsnet and RDS.

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