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Sabres hope to surprise hot Canadiens

by Arpon Basu

MONTREAL -- The Buffalo Sabres are hoping a game against the NHL's hottest team can help turn around their season.

No NHL team can match the Montreal Canadiens' 8-0-1 record over their past nine games, and the Sabres are hoping to put an end to that hot streak Saturday at Bell Centre.

With a 6-21-2 record through 29 games, the Sabres are on pace for just under 40 points in 82 games, which would be by far the lowest total since the introduction of the shootout in 2005-06. The 2006-07 Philadelphia Flyers had 56 points.

"Well, we're definitely not proud of it, to be honest with you," Sabres captain Steve Ott said. "We're not happy with our record, but our process needs to continue to work. No one has packed it in for the season. We have a lot of hockey games left and we want to continue to make a stand.

"A game like tonight is a perfect instance when you have a hot team that's 8-0-1 in the last little while. There's no better feeling than a team like us coming in and hopefully giving them a good show and maybe sneaking in a win."

The Sabres have one win in their past eight games (1-7-1), but they played well against the Canadiens in a 3-1 loss at home Nov. 27.

All things considered, this has all the makings of a trap game for the Canadiens.

"We are very well aware that every game in the NHL is difficult," Canadiens coach Michel Therrien said. "It's a challenge every night and I expect it to be a difficult game. We need to be well prepared to make sure we play a good game."

The Canadiens will start Carey Price in goal while making no changes to the lineup that beat the Boston Bruins 2-1 Thursday to give them sole possession of first place in the Atlantic Division. Price has not allowed more than two goals in nine straight starts and has a 7-1-1 record with a .951 save percentage and 1.54 goals-against average.

The Sabres will counter with Jhonas Enroth, who is 3-0-0 with a .922 save percentage against the Canadiens. Brian Flynn will re-enter the Sabres lineup after sitting out a 3-1 loss to the New York Rangers on Thursday, but coach Ted Nolan would not confirm which forward would be out as a result.

Here are the projected lineups for the Canadiens and Sabres, with Buffalo's fourth line remaining a guessing game at this point:


Matt MoulsonCody HodgsonDrew Stafford

Steve OttVille LeinoMatt D'Agostini

Luke AdamTyler EnnisZemgus Girgensons

John ScottBrian FlynnCody McCormick

Henrik TallinderTyler Myers

Christian EhrhoffJamie McBain

Mike WeberMark Pysyk

Jhonas Enroth

Ryan Miller

Scratched: Jamie McBain, Marcus Foligno, Mikhail Grigorenko

Injured: Alexander Sulzer (undisclosed)


Michael BournivalTomas PlekanecBrian Gionta

Max PaciorettyDavid DesharnaisBrendan Gallagher

Alex GalchenyukLars EllerDaniel Briere

Travis MoenBrandon PrustGeorge Parros

Andrei MarkovP.K. Subban

Josh GorgesAlexei Emelin

Douglas MurrayRaphael Diaz

Carey Price

Peter Budaj

Scratched: Francis Bouillon, Ryan White.

Injured: Rene Bourque (lower body), Davis Drewiske (shoulder surgery)

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