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Sabres aim to end skid against Canadiens

by John Kreiser

CANADIENS (36-25-7) at SABRES (19-40-8)


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

Season series: The Montreal Canadiens are going for their third victory in as many tries against the Buffalo Sabres this season. Montreal won 3-1 in Buffalo on Nov. 27 and 3-2 at home on Dec. 7. The teams play again on March 25 at Bell Centre.

Big story: The Canadiens might not have needed a plane to fly to Buffalo after an emotional 5-4 home victory against the Ottawa Senators on Saturday, a game that saw them score three times in the final 3:22 of regulation.

"It shows the character of our team, they never gave up," coach Michel Therrien said. "That's the No. 1 thing for me, we found a way to win. What I'm hoping for is that can change a season, those big games like that."

The Sabres also played Saturday night; they lost their fifth in a row when they were beaten 4-1 by the New York Islanders.

Team Scope:

Canadiens: The return of starting goaltender Carey Price didn't look like it would help the slumping Canadiens for most of the game against Ottawa, which capitalized on numerous defensive errors and led 4-1 with less than 3 1/2 minutes left in regulation. But goals by Lars Eller and Brian Gionta 78 seconds apart made it a one-goal game, and David Desharnais triggered an eruption when he snapped the puck into the net with :00.3 on the clock to tie the game.

But defenseman Francis Bouillon set off an even louder roar 1:26 into overtime when he picked up a loose puck and fired it into the net during a scramble for his first goal of the season, giving the Canadiens their most improbable win of the season and ending a three-game losing streak.

"It's probably the most important goal of my career," said Bouillon, who pinched in after goaltender Robin Lehner stopped Andrei Markov's shot. "In overtime, you try to create some offence and I saw the puck lying there in front."

Price, who had missed eight games with a lower-body injury, didn't make the trip to Buffalo. Dustin Tokarski was called up from Hamilton of the American Hockey League to back up Peter Budaj.

Sabres: Buffalo has struggled to score since opening night, and Saturday was no different. Despite getting 34 shots against the NHL's worst defensive team, the Sabres managed only one goal. They've scored five goals during their losing streak and are last in the NHL with 126 non-shootout goals.

"Scoring has been our problem all season. Tonight was no different," goaltender Jhonas Enroth said. "The effort was there, but we struggle to finish."

Buffalo had six power plays against the Islanders and scored its lone goal with the extra man, but interim coach Ted Nolan wasn't happy with his team's inability to get to the net.

"Ninety-nine percent of the teams in this League jam the net, try to create some screens and fight for rebounds," he said. "For whatever reason, we peel away."

Who's hot: Montreal center David Desharnais has goals in back-to-back games; he scored the goal that sent the game against the Senators into overtime. … Sabres forward Tyler Ennis has goals in back-to-back games and points in four straight.

Injury report: The Canadiens are without defenseman Josh Gorges (broken hand) and forward Michael Bournival (concussion). … The Sabres are missing forwards Chris Stewart (season-ending ankle injury), Zemgus Girgensons (lower body) and Torrey Mitchell (lower body). Defenseman Alexander Sulzer (upper body) is expected to miss at least another week, and Tyler Myers (elbow) didn't play against the Islanders.

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