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At the Rink: Canadiens at Sabres

by Joe Yerdon

BUFFALO -- The Montreal Canadiens will look to win their eighth consecutive game to start the season Friday when they face the Buffalo Sabres at First Niagara Center (7 p.m. ET; NHLN-US, RDS, CITYM, MSG-B, BELL TV).

The Canadiens are 7-0-0 this season but went 1-2-1 against the Sabres last season. Even though the Sabres have a much different roster and a new coach this season, the Canadiens are not looking past them.

"They're going to be a hard-working team, that's for sure," Canadiens captain Max Pacioretty said. "They've got a lot of skill, especially new faces up front, and those are guys that if you give them any free time or space they're going to put the puck in the back of your net. Obviously a team like this has a lot to prove, so their intensity level is going to be there so we have to make sure to match that."

The Canadiens are the sixth team to win the first seven games of the season in regulation and the first to do it since the 1994-1995 Pittsburgh Penguins. A win in regulation against the Sabres would make them the second team in NHL history to win the first eight, joining the 1974-1975 Sabres.

"I like our team attitude. I think our work ethic has been really good," Canadiens coach Michel Therrien said. "Structure of this hockey team has been good. Guys are really buying in about the way we want to play. We pursue the puck really well. We try to create turnovers to try to capitalize on the mistakes of the other teams. Obviously we have a good goaltender. Carey Price started the season the way he left off last season and he gives us the confidence we're looking for."

Goalie Mike Condon will make his second career start for the Canadiens. He made 20 saves in a 3-1 win against the Ottawa Senators on Oct. 11.

"We don't want to change the way we play. We don't want to change our plans," Therrien said. "Michael Condon did a really good job in his first game in Ottawa. I thought he was really sharp; really solid. You expect your goaltender to give you a chance to stay in the game. There's going to be some breakdowns at times and that's when he has to make a difference and he did a good job in his first night in Ottawa."

The Sabres are looking to win their second straight game, coming off a 2-1 shootout win against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday. The Sabres are 14-6-2 in their past 22 games against the Canadiens.

"I think the biggest thing is not to focus on them, what they do, how they play," Sabres defenseman Josh Gorges said. "Do everything you can to make them adapt how we play. Right from that first faceoff, and you hear that a lot, but we've got to dictate play. We've got to control the puck; we've got to be the aggressors and the ones pushing the pace and pushing the play and trying to make them feel as uncomfortable as you can, if you can, and then you just go from there."

Buffalo is second in the NHL in fewest shots allowed at 25.3 shots per game. The Sabres will need to keep that up if they're going to break the Canadiens' undefeated streak.

"We want to be the best, and right now Montreal is the best," Sabres coach Dan Bylsma said. "There's no question about that. They're 7-0 and we get a shot at them tonight. I don't know if it's going to get to the end of the game and take out the yardstick and see exactly where we stand; just like we did with Tampa Bay, we know we're playing a good team and we're going to try to beat them."

Goalie Chad Johnson will make his sixth consecutive start for the Sabres.

Defenseman Tom Gilbert is playing in his 600th NHL game for the Canadiens.

Here are the projected lineups:


Max PaciorettyTomas PlekanecBrendan Gallagher

Lars EllerAlex GalchenyukAlexander Semin

Tomas FleischmannDavid DesharnaisDale Weise

Brian FlynnTorrey MitchellDevante Smith-Pelly

Andrei MarkovP.K. Subban

Alexei EmelinJeff Petry

Nathan BeaulieuTom Gilbert

Mike Condon

Carey Price

Injured: None

Scratched: Paul Byron, Greg Pateryn, Jarred Tinordi


Evander KaneRyan O'ReillySam Reinhart

Tyler EnnisJack EichelBrian Gionta

Matt MoulsonZemgus GirgensonsMarcus Foligno

Nicolas DeslauriersJohan LarssonJamie McGinn

Josh GorgesRasmus Ristolainen

Mike WeberCody Franson

Jake McCabeMark Pysyk

Chad Johnson

Linus Ullmark

Injured: Robin Lehner (ankle), Zach Bogosian (lower body), Cody McCormick (blood clot)

Scratched: Carlo Colaiacovo, David Legwand

Status update: Ullmark was recalled from Rochester of the American Hockey League and goalie Nathan Lieuwen was sent down.

Who's hot: Gallagher has a goal and two assists and Plekanec has two goals and an assist in the past two games.

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