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Game Day - Sabres - October 23

by Staff Writer / Montréal Canadiens

- The Canadiens skated at the First Niagra Center in Buffalo on Friday morning ahead of their tilt against the Sabres.


- Mike Condon will make his second start both of the season, and of his career, on Friday in Buffalo. In his previous start on October 11 in Ottawa, Condon stopped 20 of the 21 shots he faced for a 0.952 save percentage, impressing his teammates along the way.

“Just watching him at practice and especially seeing him get that first game under his belt, we have all the confidence in the world in him,” dished defenseman Tom Gilbert. “He’s played great himself so far, so nothing changes in terms of how we’ll play in front of him tonight.”

- Aside from the change in goal, head coach Michel Therrien once again isn’t expected to make any other modifications to his lineup heading into Friday’s game.

- Gilbert will play his 600th career NHL against the Sabres, joining current Habs Andrei Markov, Tomas Plekanec, and Alexander Semin in that category.

“It’s a great accomplishment to get this far, and I hope I have 600 more in me. It’s a good feeling,” underlined the 32-year-old blue liner who has scored 43 goals and 173 assists for a total of 216 points over his first 599 games as an NHLer. “Coming in as a rookie, I was all over the place, but every year you pick up and learn new things. I think the experience has paid off because I’m a lot better today than I was then.”

- While not a career milestone like Gilbert’s, new Habs captain Max Pacioretty for his part will face his former captain in Montreal, Brian Gionta, on Friday.

Following the Sabres morning skate, Gionta had some kind words to share about his former teammate in his new role, and Pacioretty likewise returned the favor.

“I think I’m different now than when I played with Brian. I was in a much different position when he was on the team, and quite frankly I learned a lot from him,” admitted the 26-year-old winger, who played five seasons with Gionta in Montreal. “When he left, I think that’s when I started to incorporate his leadership qualities into my own game. I have nothing but great things to say about Brian and I’m honored to know he mentioned me this morning.”

- Despite finishing at opposite ends of the NHL standings in 2014-15, the Sabres still managed to win three of their four games against Montreal a season ago.

Now entering Friday’s contest with a 7-0-0 record to Buffalo’s current 2-4-0, the Habs will nevertheless have their work cut out for them if they intend to leave Western New York with their perfect record intact.

“They’re going to be a hardworking team tonight, that’s for sure,” predicted Pacioretty. “They’ve got a lot of skill -- especially new faces -- up front. Those are guys who will put the puck in the back of your net if you give them any free time or space on the ice. Obviously they have a lot to prove right now so their intensity level will be there, and we have to make sure we match it from the moment the puck drops.”

- Puck drop is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. on RDS and CityTV at the First Niagra Center in Buffalo.


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