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Preview: Sabres at Canadiens

Andrei Markov, David Desharnais back for Montreal; Buffalo aims for playoff push

by Sean Farrell / Correspondent

SABRES (20-19-9) at CANADIENS (29-14-7)

7:30 p.m. ET; SNE, RDS, MSG-B, NHL.TV


Sabres team scope

As the Buffalo Sabres prepare for their second game at Bell Centre in 10 days, coach Dan Bylsma said he would welcome the same effort he saw in their 3-2 overtime win against the Montreal Canadiens on Jan. 21. "In that game I thought we did a pretty good job, maybe our best job of the year, of establishing a forecheck," he said. "We kept the puck away from [goaltender] Carey Price, which he plays it a lot and well, and we did a good job of keeping it away from him and putting pressure on the Montreal defense and turning that into offensive-zone time and chances for us." The Sabres had three straight overtime wins before a 4-3 loss at the Dallas Stars on Thursday. "We had a good little stretch before the [All-Star] break, and I think that we're confident in our game right now," center Jack Eichel said. "I think that's important for us. We know we can win games in this league and we know we can be a consistent team, so it's important to stay consistent. We need to get on one of these winning streaks and start rattling them off and start catching the teams above us. We gave a decent amount of games away in the first half of the year. We're playing a bit of catch-up here, but we know we're in a position where if we win the right ones at the right time and do the right things, we can put ourselves in a position to potentially be in the [Stanley Cup] Playoffs. It starts tonight."


Canadiens team scope

Defenseman Nikita Nesterov will make his Canadiens debut, and defensemen Andrei Markov and center David Desharnais will be in the lineup Tuesday. Nesterov was acquired in a trade with the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday. He will be paired with Markov, who will play for the first time since Dec. 17 after missing 19 games because of a groin injury. "First of all, we want Nesterov to be in a situation where he will be able to perform well, to communicate, to play him with Markov so he can learn the way we play, a few details that are different from the way he's used to playing," coach Michel Therrien said after the morning skate in Brossard, Quebec. "And with Markov, we're going to have to manage his ice time. Don't forget, it's been awhile since he's played, so those two things led us to put them together." Desharnais plans to keep it simple after missing 24 games because of a knee injury he sustained Dec. 6. "Just getting my timing back, I think that's the most important thing, not trying to do too much," he said. "When you're out that long, you miss the game and I'm going to enjoy the game tonight." Defenseman Jeff Petry will not play because of illness.


Sabres projected lineup

Tyler Ennis -- Ryan O'Reilly -- Kyle Okposo

Marcus Foligno -- Jack Eichel -- Sam Reinhart

Evander Kane -- Zemgus Girgensons -- Brian Gionta

William Carrier -- Cal O'Reilly -- Matt Moulson

Dmitry Kulikov -- Rasmus Ristolainen

Zach Bogosian -- Cody Franson

Justin Falk -- Taylor Fedun

Robin Lehner

Anders Nilsson

Scratched: Nicolas Deslauriers

Injured: Josh Gorges (hip), Johan Larsson (wrist), Jake McCabe (shoulder), Cody McCormick (blood clots)


Canadiens projected lineup

Max Pacioretty -- Phillip Danault -- Alexander Radulov

Artturi Lehkonen -- Tomas Plekanec -- Paul Byron

Sven Andrighetto -- David Desharnais -- Andrew Shaw

Daniel Carr -- Torrey Mitchell -- Brian Flynn

Alexei Emelin -- Shea Weber

Nathan Beaulieu -- Greg Pateryn

Andrei Markov -- Nikita Nesterov

Carey Price

Al Montoya

Scratched: Mark Barberio, Jacob De La Rose

Injured: Alex Galchenyuk (knee), Brendan Gallagher (hand), Jeff Petry (illness)


Status report

Bylsma said he anticipated the return of Markov and Desharnais to the Canadiens lineup. "[Markov is] a big part of their defense, a big part of their puck-moving defense and on the power play as well," he said. "Desharnais going back down the middle gives them a little more depth in their top 12 forwards. They're a good team. They're a good team without those guys, they're a better team with those guys in their lineup." ... Pateryn will return after missing 24 games because of a broken ankle sustained Dec. 6. He will take Petry's place. ... Therrien did not rule out the possibility of Galchenyuk returning Thursday. The Canadiens assigned defenseman Zach Redmond to St. John's of the American Hockey League after he cleared waivers.


Who's hot

Kane has two goals and four assists during a three-game point streak. He has 14 goals in his past 25 games, including two against the Stars. Eichel has four goals and two assists in his past six games. Gionta has two goals and one assist during a three-game point streak. Franson needs one point for 200 in the NHL. ... Radulov has two goals and three assists in his past four games. Shaw has one goal and two assists in his past two games.

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