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Canadiens try to bounce back against Sabres

by Magalie Lafreni?re

SABRES (9-12-3) at CANADIENS (14-8-1)


Last 10 -- Buffalo 5-4-1; Montreal 6-4-0

Season series -- It's the third of six meetings between the two Northeast Division clubs. The Canadiens took the first two games, winning 2-1 win on Oct. 15 and 3-2 on Nov. 5, a game in which Benoit Pouliot had a pair of goals.

Big story -- After missing two games with a groin injury, Ryan Miller returned in style Friday, making 35 saves to lead the Sabres to a 3-1 victory over the Maple Leafs. This was the Buffalo goaltender's second injury of the season. A hip problem kept him out for six games, to which he returned to post a 4-1-0 record. It was only Buffalo's fourth win of the season at home, where they've posted a 4-8-1 record.

"It's calmed my game down a little bit," said Miller. "At the start of the season I was trying to do too much, and I expected myself to be perfect every night and making big saves every night. That can't happen unless you're relaxed, and maybe these little tweaks can slow me down just enough where I can make all the right plays."

Team Scope:

Sabres -- After dropping two straight, the Sabres found their scoring touch in their victory over Toronto. Buffalo struck early in the first with a set of power-play goals from Jordan Leopold and Thomas Vanek, while Patrick Kaleta would add a short-handed goal midway through the third.

Miller just missed the shutout, as Toronto's Phil Kessel found the back of the net by scoring a shorthanded goal with just 3:27 left in the game.

"Anytime you can get your starting goaltender back it's a boost," coach Lindy Ruff said. "We all know what he means to the team. When Ryan's in there we can play a more aggressive type of game."

Canadiens -- Montreal still leads the Northeast Division, but with two rough games this week, you wouldn't necessarily know it. The Habs blew a 2-0 lead in a disappointing 3-2 loss to the Flyers on Monday, and on Friday they failed to score in a 3-0 loss to the Thrashers in Atlanta.

Alex Auld made his second start of the season, but the backup goaltender couldn't blamed for the loss. Auld stopped 44 of 47 shots on goal, while his teammates shot 25 on Atlanta. Carey Price will however get the start in Montreal on Saturday.

"He (Auld) gave us an opportunity, he made some saves," coach Jacques Martin said to the Montreal Gazette. "If you don't score any goals, you aren't going to win any hockey games."

Who's hot -- Vanek has 3 goals and 2 assists in his last five games for the Sabres. Montreal goaltender Carey Price, who got a rare night off on Friday, leads the League with 13 wins and is fourth in save percentage and fifth in goals-against average.

Injury report -- Sabres right wing Drew Stafford (shoulder) is on the injured reserve, center Rob Niedermayer (knee surgery) will be out for another week and center Tim Connolly has missed the last two games with a groin injury. … Andrei Markov (right knee) is out indefinitely for Montreal.

Stat pack -- Buffalo is 2-5-0 in the second of back-to-back games this season, while Montreal is 1-2-0.

Puck drop -- "What's not to like about him. He's one, if not the best goaltender in the world. We love having him back there." -- Patrick Kaleta after Buffalo's 3-1 victory over the Maple Leafs
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