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Habs look to improve to 4-0 against Sabres

by Brian Compton
CANADIENS (26-17-3) at SABRES (19-20-5)


Last 10: Montreal 6-3-1; Buffalo 5-4-1.

Season Series: This is the fourth of six meetings between the Northeast Division rivals. The Canadiens are 3-0 thus far against the Sabres, although this is the first time the teams are facing each other since Nov. 27.

Big Story: Ryan Miller has been one busy goaltender this season. The U.S. Olympian has started 21 consecutive games for the Sabres, the longest such streak since starting in a career-high 34 consecutive games in 2007-08.  Over the last 21 games, Miller is 11-8-2 with a 2.72 goals against average, a .915 save percentage and three shutouts.

"I've talked the schedule with Ryan," coach Lindy Ruff said. "I've got in mind what I need to do with this team and our goaltending. We're battling hard to get back in the picture, and it's desperate right now. It's hard on a lot of different people, not just our backup goalie (Patrick Lalime)."

Team Scope:

Canadiens: They nearly let it slip away, but the Habs escaped Monday night with a 5-4 overtime victory against the Calgary Flames at the Bell Centre. Montreal built a 4-0 lead, only to see it slip away as the Flames chased backup goalie Alex Auld.

"I was pumped," Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban said after tallying the game-winner in the extra session. "I was on for a couple of goals against, there were some bad plays, I jumped on the ice for the too many men call, I put our team in a bad position. But this is a game of highs and lows and I stuck with it."

Sabres: Buffalo was unable to make it two in a row on Saturday night, when it suffered a 5-3 loss to the New York Islanders at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. The Sabres peppered Rick DiPietro with 43 shots, but the No. 1 pick from the 2000 Entry Draft enjoyed one of his better games. John Tavares, the No. 1 pick in 2009, recorded a natural hat trick.

"We gave them every opportunity to capitalize in the second," Miller said. "Tavares is a very tough kid."

Who's Hot: Habs forward Mike Cammalleri had a goal and an assist Monday night and has three points in his last two games, while Subban has a three-game point streak. … Sabres forward Thomas Vanek had four goals and six assists in his last seven games.

Injury Report: For the Canadiens, defensemen Andrei Markov and Josh Gorges are out with knee injuries. Benoit Pouliot missed Monday's game with the flu. … Sabres center Derek Roy is out, while right wing Patrick Kaleta (upper body) will be re-evaluated Tuesday.

Stat Pack: Habs defenseman James Wisniewski has two goals and seven assists in nine games since being acquired by the Islanders on Dec. 28.

Puck Drop: "I think that's what separates the top teams from us right now.  They play 60 minutes through and they don’t break down… we struggle at times doing that." -- Sabres forward Jochen Hecht
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