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Preview: Canadiens at Sabres

Forwards Brian Flynn, Torrey Mitchell back for Montreal; Buffalo tinkers with lineup

by Joe Yerdon / NHL.com Correspondent

CANADIENS (46-24-9) at SABRES (32-35-12)

7:30 p.m. ET; SN, MSG-B, RDS, NHL.TV

 

Canadiens team scope

The Montreal Canadiens, who have clinched the Atlantic Division title, look for their sixth straight victory and will have forwards Brian Flynn and Torrey Mitchell back in the lineup. Flynn will play for the first time after missing 12 games with an upper-body injury, and Mitchell will return after missing a 4-1 victory against the Florida Panthers on Monday with an illness. "I've been watching the boys and they've been having some success," Flynn said. "I'm hoping I can jump in and continue that." The Canadiens are 14-3-1 in their past 18 games, and 15-5-1 after naming Claude Julien to replace Michel Therrien as coach on Feb. 14. "I think the biggest thing [Julien has done] it's kind of been mentally, our approach to the game," forward Brendan Gallagher said. "There's been a few tweaks that have obviously helped our game; we give up less shots, we break out the puck a bit better, but I think the biggest adjustment has been our mental side of the game." Defenseman Jordie Benn (upper body) and goalie Al Montoya (lower body) each took part in the morning skate Wednesday but will not play. Defenseman Shea Weber (lower body) did not travel to Buffalo. "[Montoya] is doing well," Julien said. "It's encouraging to see him and it gives us the opportunity to work with him and do a little extra with him this morning so he can catch up for all the days he's missed." No. 1 goaltender Carey Price will start; he's 12-2-0 with 21 goals allowed and one shutout in his past 14 starts.

 

Sabres team scope

The Buffalo Sabres will make some lineup changes against the Canadiens. Buffalo will scratch defenseman Jake McCabe and forwards William Carrier and C.J. Smith, and have recalled goalie Linus Ullmark from Rochester of the American Hockey League to replace Anders Nilsson, who was injured in practice Tuesday. "He took a shot and got through practice fine yesterday, it just kind of escalated as he came in this morning," coach Dan Bylsma said of Nilsson. McCabe has played in 74 games this season and is being scratched for the first time. Justin Falk will take his spot in the lineup. "I think [McCabe]'s made a few gaffes with the puck in some costly situations in some costly areas," Bylsma said. "He's kind of gotten into a hole as a result of it and lost a little confidence with his puck play, and we've seen that the last couple games." Forward Kyle Okposo will miss his fourth straight game with an illness. Goaltender Robin Lehner will start.

 

Canadiens projected lineup

Max Pacioretty -- Phillip Danault -- Alexander Radulov

Alex Galchenyuk -- Andrew Shaw -- Artturi Lehkonen

Paul Byron -- Tomas Plekanec -- Brendan Gallagher

Dwight King -- Torrey Mitchell -- Brian Flynn

Andrei Markov -- Jeff Petry

Brandon Davidson -- Nikita Nesterov

Nathan Beaulieu -- Alexei Emelin

Carey Price

Charlie Lindgren

Scratched: Andreas Martinsen, Steve Ott, Michael McCarron

Injured: Shea Weber (lower body), Jordie Benn (upper body), Al Montoya (lower body)

 

Sabres projected lineup

Evander Kane -- Ryan O'Reilly -- Brian Gionta

Marcus Foligno -- Jack Eichel -- Sam Reinhart

Alexander Nylander -- Evan Rodrigues -- Tyler Ennis

Nicolas Deslauriers -- Zemgus Girgensons -- Matt Moulson

Josh Gorges -- Rasmus Ristolainen

Justin Falk -- Zach Bogosian

Dmitry Kulikov -- Cody Franson

Robin Lehner

Linus Ullmark

Scratched: C.J. Smith, William Carrier, Jake McCabe

Injured: Anders Nilsson (undisclosed), Kyle Okposo (illness), Taylor Fedun (foot), Johan Larsson (wrist)

 

Status report

Weber's injury isn't serious, according to Julien, who said the Canadiens will know more once they return to Montreal. … The Sabres held an optional morning skate Wednesday.

 

Who's hot

Pacioretty has seven points (two goals, five assists) in a five-game point streak. … Lehkonen has seven points (four goals, three assists) in his past seven games. … Danault has five points (two goals, three assists) in a four-game point streak. … Radulov has five points (three goals, two assists) in a four-game point streak. … Gallagher has five points (two goals, three assists) in his past four games. … Eichel has 22 points (11 goals, 11 assists) in his past 18 games. … O'Reilly has seven points (four goals, three assists) in his past eight games.

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