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Canadiens continue playoff push against Sabres

by Sean McCullen

SABRES (20-43-8) at CANADIENS (40-26-7)


Last 10: Buffalo 2-8-0; Montreal 6-4-0

Season series: This is the fourth and final game between the Buffalo Sabres and Montreal Canadiens. Montreal has won the first three games by a combined score of 8-3, including a 2-0 victory in Buffalo on March 16 in the most-recent game.

Big story: The Canadiens will look to move into second place in the Atlantic Division and grab the home-ice advantage it would give them against the Tampa Bay Lightning in a potential Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

With 87 points apiece, the Canadiens and Lightning are seven points ahead of the fourth-place Detroit Red Wings in the Atlantic. The Lightning, who are off until they host the New York Islanders on Thursday, are in second entering Tuesday because they have a game in hand on the Canadiens.

Team Scope:

Sabres: Buffalo is 1-2-0 entering the fourth of a five-game road trip after its 4-2 loss to the Vancouver Canucks on Sunday.

Goalie Matt Hackett is expected to make his second start with the Sabres this season. He made 35 saves to earn the win in Buffalo's 3-1 victory against the Edmonton Oilers in the second game of the road trip.

Hackett appeared in 13 games with the Minnesota Wild the past two seasons. He has a career record of 4-7-0 with a 2.49 goals-against average and .920 save percentage.

Goalie Nathan Lieuwen, a Vancouver-area native, took the loss in his second NHL start Sunday night.

"For me, it's a dream come true to play here. I've got tons of family here," said Lieuwen, who stopped 32 of 36 shots he faced. "I was very nervous the first half of the game. After that I felt like I settled in and felt nice and comfortable."

Canadiens: Montreal ended the Boston Bruins' winning streak at 12 with a 2-1 shootout victory at TD Garden on Monday night. The Canadiens finished the season series at 3-1-0 against the NHL- and Atlantic Division-leading Bruins.

Backup goalie Peter Budaj made 28 saves in a surprise start, and the Canadiens got the victory when Alex Galchenyuk beat Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask for the shootout's lone goal in the fourth round.

Coach Michel Therrien praised the Canadiens' work on the penalty kill against Boston, which was 1-for-6 with the man advantage.

"We played for two points tonight, and I believe our guys did a fantastic job killing penalties. We gave them four power plays in the third period and only allowed six shots on net," Therrien said. "The guys on the penalty killing did a great job, especially after we lost two forwards early in the game. We only had 10 forwards available in the game, against the hottest team in the League."

Goalie Carey Price will get the start against Buffalo.

Who's hot: Buffalo center Tyler Ennis has a goal and an assist in the past two games. He has three goals in his past six. Center Cory Conacher has two goals and three assists in eight games since being claimed off waivers from the Ottawa Senators. … Montreal defenseman Alexei Emelin has a goal and three assists in his past five games. He scored Montreal's only non-shootout goal Monday. Right wing Brian Gionta has a goal and two assists in the past two games.

Injury report: Sabres defenseman Tyler Myers (arm) said he's ready to return. Goalies Michal Neuvirth (lower body) and Jhonas Enroth (leg), defenseman Alexander Sulzer (upper body) and right wing Chris Stewart (ankle) are out. Stewart is done for the season. Center Zemgus Girgensons (lower body) is day-to-day. He has not played since March 6. … Canadiens center Lars Eller (lower body) is day-to-day. Defenseman Josh Gorges (hand surgery) is out for several weeks, and left wing Brandon Prust (upper body) is out for at least the remainder of the regular season. Forwards Dale Weise (upper body) and Travis Moen (upper body) left the game Monday in the first period and did not return.

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