The Buffalo Sabres used strong play on the road to earn the top seed in the Eastern Conference last season. The Montreal Canadiens are now trying to follow suit.
After ending a defensive slump, the Canadiens look to avenge one of their three road losses when they open a home-and-home series with the Sabres on Friday night.
Buffalo (8-10-1) is trying to bounce back from a slow start after going an NHL-best 25-12-4 on the road last season en route to winning the President's Trophy. Montreal (12-6-3), meanwhile, failed to make the postseason in 2006-07, but its Eastern Conference-leading 7-3-1 record away from the Bell Centre has helped put it among the NHL's top teams so far this season.
The Canadiens' last road loss, however, was a 4-1 defeat to the Sabres on Friday night. Montreal won its first two games against Buffalo this season, both of which came at home.
That loss to the Sabres was one of five straight games in which the Canadiens gave up three goals or more. Montreal ended that stretch with a strong showing on the road in its last game, beating the New York Islanders 4-1 on Wednesday night.
Cristobal Huet finally ended his slump for Montreal, stopping a season-high 44 shots to snap a three-game losing streak. He gave up four goals in each of his previous two contests, including the last meeting with Buffalo.
Huet is 6-4-3 with a 2.67 goals-against average in 14 games against the Sabres.
Montreal had also been struggling on offense, scoring two goals or less in six of its previous eight games. Steve Begin scored twice - giving him three this season - and Christopher Higgins added a goal and an assist for the Canadiens on Wednesday.
Montreal defenseman Patrice Brisebois, who had an assist, is three points shy of 400 for his career.
Buffalo's offense, meanwhile, has been bolstered by the return of center Tim Connolly. Tied for the team lead with 11 assists, Connolly missed five games because of a strained oblique before returning for a 4-1 win over Ottawa on Wednesday night.
The Sabres have scored four goals in each of their last two games - scoring three times in the opening period in both contests - after being held to a total of seven en route to losing five of their previous six. The Sabres will be trying to match their longest winning streak of the season, set from Oct. 11-15.
"We've got two in a row now, and we have to keep this rolling," said Buffalo center Derek Roy, who has two goals and four points in his last three games.
Roy also has four goals and nine points in his last eight games versus Montreal.
With the Sabres' offense coming around, Ryan Miller has started to benefit. He has started the last seven games in net for Buffalo, posting a 1.86 GAA and while going 3-4-0.
Miller stopped 36 shots by the Canadiens on Friday, and is 9-3-2 with a 2.31 GAA in 14 games against them.
Buffalo is concluding a three-game stretch at home, where it is 6-4-0.