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Sabres-Canadiens Preview

GAME: Buffalo Sabres (34-15-3) at Montreal Canadiens (25-22-6).

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

Ryan Miller looks to continue his strong play in net, and lead the Buffalo Sabres to a sixth straight victory when they visit a Montreal Canadiens team also riding a hot goaltender.

Miller made 28 saves in regulation and thwarted Ottawa captain Daniel Alfredsson's attempt in the final round of the shootout to earn his fifth straight win Saturday, 2-1 over the Senators.

"I tried to get the glove forward on him and not give him any angle," said Miller, who was named to the U.S. Olympic hockey team's taxi squad Monday. "It's not really a save, it's more taking space away."

The 25-year-old Miller is 12-3-0 with a 1.79 goals-against average since returning from a fractured thumb on Dec. 19. He's allowed three goals or less in 14 of 15 starts over that span.

The victory was the fifth in a row for Buffalo, which won a season-high seven straight from Dec. 4-19.

The Sabres have beaten three of the top four teams in the Eastern Conference during their current run, and with 71 points, are tied with Philadelphia for fourth place in the conference.

Buffalo will be looking to extend its win streak against a Canadiens team it has beaten in the last two meetings between the clubs. The Sabres snapped a four-game losing streak at Montreal with a 3-2 overtime victory on Dec. 1.

The Canadiens, who trail Toronto by one point for the eighth and final playoff spot in the East, have won two straight behind their backup goalie.

Cristobal Huet beat Boston 2-0 on Saturday and Philadelphia 5-0 on Sunday to post Montreal's first consecutive shutouts since starter Jose Theodore accomplished the feat in February 2002.

Theodore is 17-15-5 this season with a 3.46 GAA and .881 save percentage, while Huet is 5-5-1 with a 2.47 GAA and .926 save percentage. The 30-year-old has allowed three goals or less in 11 of his 14 appearances.

"That's what I'm here for," Huet said. "We have two goalies and when needed, we've got to step up and do the job. The matter is to help the team right now, that's what we need."

Michael Ryder provided plenty of offense against the Flyers, ending a seven-game goal drought by collecting his first career hat trick.

"Since it was my first, the guys hit me on the head a couple of times and I don't know if I've got a concussion," Ryder said jokingly. "It's kind of cool to get it under my belt."

Ryder has four goals and five assists in 10 games against the Sabres in his career.

STANDINGS: Sabres - 71 points, 2nd place, 6 PB, Northeast Division. Canadiens - 56 points, 4th place, 21 PB, Northeast Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Sabres - Ales Kotalik, 21 goals; Tim Connolly, 29 assists; Kotalik and Chris Drury, 41 points; Andrew Peters, 63 PIM. Canadiens - Ryder, 23 goals; Saku Koivu and Alexei Kovalev, 25 assists; Koivu, 39 points; Steve Begin, 95 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS: Sabres - Power play: 21.0 percent (65 for 309), 2nd in NHL. Penalty killing: 85.9 percent (237 for 276), 3rd. Canadiens - Power play: 18.7 percent (56 for 300), 9th. Penalty killing: 80.7 percent (267 for 331), 23rd.

GOALTENDERS: Sabres - Miller (18-7-0, 2.18 GAA); Martin Biron (15-6-3, 2.98). Canadiens - Theodore (17-15-5, 3.46); Huet (5-5-1, 2 SO, 2.47).


LAST MEETING: Dec. 1; Sabres 3-2, OT. At Montreal, Brian Campbell scored at 2:15 of the extra period and Connolly had a goal and two assists for Buffalo.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Sabres - 17-8-1 on the road; Canadiens - 16-7-2 at home.

Associated Press

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