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Sabres-Canadiens Preview @NHLdotcom
Sabres-Canadiens Preview

GAME: Buffalo Sabres (15-9-1) at Montreal Canadiens (14-7-4).

TIME: Thursday, 7:30 p.m. EST.

The Buffalo Sabres try to record their longest winning streak in nearly 13 years when they visit the Montreal Canadiens.

The Sabres, tied for the fourth-most victories in the Eastern Conference with 15, go into this contest having won their last four games. They haven't won five straight since a six-game streak from Dec. 31, 1992-Jan. 10, 1993.

Buffalo, though, has lost its last four games in Montreal, getting outscored 15-6. That skid includes a 3-2 defeat on Nov. 5 in the Sabres' lone trip to the Bell Centre this season.

The Canadiens come into this game struggling, however, having lost three in a row and seven of nine. They've scored only 10 goals in their last six games.

The Sabres have totaled 29 goals in their last eight contests - seven wins and an overtime loss. Their fifth-ranked power-play unit has scored at least once in each of those games.

Ales Kotalik's third-period power-play goal Tuesday helped the Sabres to a 3-2 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Maxim Afinogenov had a goal and an assist, and Martin Biron finished with 30 saves to win his sixth consecutive start.

"We've been trying to get on a roll," Biron said. "We went on a little skid there when we lost four in a row and five of six, but we've been able to bounce back and play well against some good teams."

Biron is 11-5-0 with a 1.93 goals-against average against Montreal.

Canadiens goaltender Jose Theodore hasn't had as much success lately, winning once in his last six starts. Theodore made 26 saves Tuesday as Montreal was blanked for the first time this season, 4-0 to the Ottawa Senators.

The Senators tallied twice on the power play against a Montreal penalty-killing unit that has allowed multiple goals in three consecutive games.

It didn't help that Montreal played one defenseman short after Mike Komisarek was forced to leave the team because of a family emergency. Sheldon Souray already is out with a groin injury and Andrei Markov is serving a three-game suspension for pushing a linesman during Saturday's 4-3 overtime loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs.

"I think when you consider the position that we were in with our roster and all the situations that have happened in the past couple of days, I thought we played a pretty tight game," Canadiens coach Claude Julien said.

Montreal leading scorer Saku Koivu has been quiet lately, with one assist in the last five games following a three-game stretch in which he notched seven points.

Koivu has 20 points in 35 career games against the Sabres, including three assists in three games this season.

STANDINGS (through Nov. 30): Sabres - 31 points, 3rd place (tied), 7 PB, Northeast Division. Canadiens - 32 points, 2nd place, 6 PB, Northeast Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Sabres - Kotalik, 13 goals; Teppo Numminen, 17 assists; Daniel Briere, 20 points; Paul Gaustad and Toni Lydman, 22 PIM. Canadiens - Michael Ryder, 10 goals; Koivu, 18 assists and 26 points; Steve Begin, 51 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS (through Nov. 30): Sabres - Power play: 21.5 percent (33 for 153), 5th in NHL. Penalty killing: 82.5 percent (104 for 126), 14th. Canadiens - Power play: 18.4 percent (29 for 157), 11th (tied). Penalty killing: 80.6 percent (133 for 165), 23rd.

GOALTENDERS: Sabres - Biron (8-4-1, 0 SO, 3.36 GAA); Mika Noronen (1-1-0, 3.06). Canadiens - Theodore (11-5-4, 3.02); Yann Danis (3-2-0, 1, 2.69).

SEASON SERIES: Canadiens, 2-1.

LAST MEETING: Friday; Sabres, 3-1. At Buffalo, N.Y., Biron had 40 saves, and Brian Campbell and Tim Connolly each tallied a goal and an assist.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Sabres - 7-5-0 on the road; Canadiens - 8-4-1 at home.

Associated Press
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