The Eastern Conference-leading Buffalo Sabres are going through the motions a bit during a five-game road trip.
They'll try to bounce back from their second loss of the stretch when they visit the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday in a matchup of Northeast Division rivals.
Buffalo (21-5-2) began the trip with an 11-1 record on the road before losing two of three games. The first three contests were all against Southeast Division foes, with the Sabres sandwiching losses to Washington and Florida around a win over Tampa Bay.
Sabres coach Lindy Ruff felt his club took the Panthers for granted after a 3-1 loss on Thursday night. Buffalo had only 18 shots, one shy of its lowest total of the season.
"We weren't ready to play and I'll take the hit for that," Ruff said. "We thought the game was going to be easy. We had one guy who played tonight and that was our goalie. After (our) goal, I should have called timeout and had everyone go pat (Ryan Miller) on the pads just to thank him for keeping us there."
Miller faced at least 38 shots for the second time in four starts, saving 35 of 38 in his third loss of the season. He stopped all 17 in the first period.
Daniel Briere followed up his first career hat trick in Tuesday's 4-1 victory over the Lightning by scoring Buffalo's lone goal on a five-on-three power play against the Panthers.
"Besides that five-on-three, we were never able to get anything offensively," Briere said. "It was one of those night we couldn't get our legs going. This is the worst I've seen this year."
Briere is tied with Maxim Afinogenov with a team-high 20 assists, and leads the Sabres with 34 points.
Miller has helped Buffalo to a 2-0-1 mark against Montreal (16-8-4) this season, posting a 2.22 goals-against-average in starting all three matchups.
His work in the net has helped the Sabres overcome their 0-for-17 drought on the power play against the Canadiens. They've also failed to contain Montreal center Saku Koivu, who has three goals and two assists in the meetings.
Koivu scored twice on the power play in a 4-2 victory at the New York Islanders on Thursday. Montreal has scored on four of its last 11 power-play chances, with defenseman Sheldon Souray scoring or assisting on three of them.
"Our power play is going pretty good right now," Souray said. "Saku's in front of the net, taking all the abuse, and getting the rebounds."
Cristobal Huet has started all three games against Buffalo this season. He surrendered seven goals in the first two matchups before making 29 saves in a 2-1 overtime victory on Nov. 24.