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Habs seek third straight win vs. Miller-less Sabres

by Eric Goodman
SABRES (10-6-0) at CANADIENS (7-7-2)


Last 10: Buffalo 5-5-0; Montreal 6-3-1

Season series: The Sabres took the first of six regular-season meetings with a 3-1 victory at Montreal on Oct. 18. Buffalo will look to extend its winning streak at Montreal's Bell Centre to three games.

Big Story: Buffalo goalie Ryan Miller has struggled recently and has now been sidelined indefinitely with a concussion suffered after colliding with Boston's Milan Lucic as the Sabres' netminder left his crease in an effort to thwart a breakaway attempt. Miller is just 1-5-0 with a 4.16 goals-against average in his last six starts and will be replaced by backup goalie Jhonas Enroth for Monday night's game. Additionally, defenseman Tyler Myers said he would be a healthy scratch, though coach Lindy Ruff would not confirm this.

Team Scope:

Sabres: Buffalo steamrolled into Saturday's game with Boston, riding a four-game winning streak and giving the Bruins a run for their money with a strong defensive first period that led to a 1-0 lead. But Boston would go on to dominate the rest of the contest with six unanswered goals as the Sabres lost 6-2.

The strong hit by Lucic on Miller foreshadowed the quick unraveling that the Sabres experienced shortly after the incident. Miller was not shy with reporters when addressing the check.

Miller said that Lucic has "50 pounds on me and he runs me like that? It's unbelievable. Everyone in this city sees him as a big tough solid player. I respected him for how hard he played. That was gutless."

Canadiens: Coming off two overtime victories, Montreal will try to extend its winning streak to a modest three games when it hosts the visiting Sabres. With only one win over their first eight games of the season, the Habs are steadily working back towards getting into the thick of things in the Northeast Division.

Max Pacioretty gave the Habs the win with a goal 2:31 into overtime to defeat the Nashville Predators 2-1 on Saturday.

"My job in the seam is to pitch in offensively," Pacioretty told reporters following the game. "I think our line did a pretty good job of that, in taking the puck to the net on four-on-four."

Who's Hot: The prospect of a goalie controversey in Buffalo is legitimized by the fact that Enroth is 5-0-0 with a 1.75 GAA in seven games this season, five of which he started...Habs goalie Carey Price has been solid against the Sabres recently, although he hasn't gotten much goal support. Price is just 4-3-3 in his last 10 starts against Buffalo with an impressive 1.48 GAA.

Injury Report: The long-term effects of Miller's concussion have not yet been determined, but he is out indefinitely for Monday's game. Center Jochen Hecht remains out indefinitely with a concussion, while Tyler Ennis is week-to-week with an ankle injury. ... Forwards Mike Cammalleri and Scott Gomez returned to the Canadiens' lineup Saturday, but forward Andrei Kostitsyn missed his third game with a lower-body injury. Defensemen Chris Campoli (torn hamstring) and Andrei Markov (ACL surgery) and forward Ryan White (groin) are out.
Stat Pack: The Habs went 1-5-2 over their first eight games and put up a goal or less in five of those games. But the offense has steadily improved as Montreal is now averaging 2.75 goals per game over its last seven contests.

Puck Drop: The fallout from Saturday's Lucic-Miller incident was still being felt throughout the weekend as some of the Sabres players addressed the lack of a physical response from their team during the remainder of the game with Boston.

"There are codes in hockey, and one was broken the other night," said forward Paul Gaustad. "But honestly we broke one as well, we didn't protect our goaltender the way we should have. But we dealt with it as a team, and it will make us better."

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