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Game Preview: Canadiens @ Sabres

The Habs will kick off their 2016-17 regular season in Buffalo

by Montreal Canadiens @canadiensMTL /

The Canadiens will kick off the 2016-17 regular season with a game against the Sabres at the KeyBank Center.

With the preseason - and the team's 4-1-2 record in those seven games - now a thing of the past, the Habs will look to get the season started on the right foot in Buffalo, having won two of their three games against the Sabres in 2015-16.

The Canadiens will be without the services of Carey Price for the season debut as he continues to recover from a flu bug. Price did not make the trip to Buffalo, but Michel Therrien suggested that the All-Star netminder may join the team in Ottawa on Friday if his health improves.

With Price out of commission, Al Montoya will get his first start in a Habs uniform on Thursday night. The 31-year-old goaltender owns a 3-0-2 record in five career games against the Sabres. After being recalled from St. John's on Wednesday, Charlie Lindgren will serve as Montoya's backup for the opener. Robin Lehner will get the start between the pipes at the other end of the ice. 

Dan Bylsma will also be missing a few of his key contributors for the game, namely Kyle Okposo and Jack Eichel. Eichel suffered a severe ankle injury during a practice on Wednesday and could miss multiple weeks of action. 

Mikhail Sergachev will play the first game of his NHL career on Thursday night, making him the first 18-year-old blue-liner since Mathieu Schneider in 1987-88 to suit up for the Canadiens. He has been playing on a defensive pairing with Alexei Emelin during practices and is expected to be paired with him against the Sabres. 

In addition to Montoya and Sergachev, Shea Weber, Andrew Shaw, Alexander Radulov, and Artturi Lehkonen will also be making their regular season Habs debuts in Buffalo after joining the team in the offseason.

This will mark the third-straight year in which the Habs will start the season on the road and the 40th time in franchise history. The team currently boasts a 17-15-7 record in 39 regular season road openers. 

Puck drop is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. ET. 

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