After being shut out at home for the first time in nearly two years, the Buffalo Sabres open a five-game road trip Saturday night against the Northeast Division rival Montreal Canadiens.
The Sabres (3-3-0) had won three straight on their homestand before managing only 21 shots on goal in a 3-0 loss to Columbus on Friday night. Buffalo, which scored a league-high 308 goals en route to winning the Presidents' Trophy, was blanked in front of the home fans for the first time since a 5-0 defeat to San Jose on Dec. 2, 2005.
"(Columbus) made it tough for us," said Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller, who made 26 saves, including a stop on Rick Nash's penalty shot. "We didn't get our offense going the way we wanted to at all."
Buffalo has dropped its only road contest this season, losing 3-2 to the New York Islanders on Oct. 6 in the back end of a home-and-home series. Miller, who had 16 of his 40 wins last season on the road, stopped 21 shots in that contest.
Miller has never lost in Montreal, going 4-0-0 with a 1.71 goals-against average at the Bell Center.
The Sabres were 4-3-1 against the Canadiens last season, which included a split of four meetings in Montreal.
In the season series, Thomas Vanek led Buffalo with four goals and a team-high eight points. After the Sabres matched a seven-year, $50 million offer sheet in the offseason to retain the right wing following a career-high 43 goals in 2006-07, Vanek has struggled as he's scored just two goals so far this season.
Montreal (2-2-0), meanwhile, is looking to avoid its fourth loss in a row. On Thursday against Ottawa with the score tied at three, Canadiens forward Tom Kostopoulos committed a turnover in his own zone that led to Jason Spezza's go-ahead goal with 6:45 to play.
"It happens," Canadiens rookie goaltender Carey Price. "It's not the only thing that went wrong today. There were lots of mistakes made and we lost the game as a team. I could have played better, I'm sure there are lots of guys who could have played better."
Price, who made 29 saves in just his second career start, is likely to move back to the bench Saturday in favor of Cristobal Huet.
Huet, who is 1-1-2 with a 2.17 GAA, has been outstanding in his last two home games, stopping 59 of 62 shots. However, the Canadiens lost both times as their offense produced only one goal in each contest, including a 2-1 shootout loss to Florida on Tuesday.
Huet went 3-1-2 with a 2.42 GAA in six games against Buffalo last season. In his career, he's 1-2-2 with a 2.98 GAA in five home starts against the Sabres.
Michael Ryder, the Canadiens' leading scorer last season with 30 goals, scored his first this season against the Senators. The right wing had five goals in eight contests against the Sabres, including one in each of the last three meetings last season.