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Sabres return home to host Canadiens

by Brian Compton
CANADIENS (27-32-10) at SABRES (32-29-8)


Last 10: Montreal 3-7-0; Buffalo 7-2-1.

Season Series: This is the fourth of six meetings between the Northeast Division rivals. Buffalo is 3-0-1 against the Canadiens this season.

Big Story: Andrei Markov is back.

Montreal's top defenseman made a surprise return to the lineup Saturday night, leading the Canadiens to an impressive 4-1 win at Vancouver. It was the first appearance in nearly 16 months for Markov, who has been hampered by knee injuries.

"It was awesome, we just beat one of the strongest teams in the League," Markov said after finishing with 17:09 of ice time. "I felt good. The first few shifts, I had to adjust to the speed, but after that I felt good. It's going to take some time. I need a little bit more time to realize the speed of the game and to read the game."

Team Scope:

Canadiens: It was a 1-1 tie after 40 minutes, but Montreal pulled away with three third-period goals to beat the Canucks at Rogers Arena. Carey Price finished with 32 saves and Erik Cole scored twice for the Habs, who are now just a point shy of climbing out of the Eastern Conference basement.

"We knew they were going to come out pretty hard in this building but we just kind of put up a barricade and didn't let them get in the inside," Price said.

Sabres: After suffering a disappointing 3-1 loss at Boston on Thursday night, Buffalo concluded its brief two-game trip with a 4-3 shootout victory at Ottawa on Saturday. Marcus Foligno tied the game for the Sabres in the third period before Tyler Ennis tallied the game-winner in the shootout to help Buffalo keep pace in the race to the postseason.

"It was good to see us get pucks to the net, and we got a couple of nice bounces and that comes from just putting the puck in good areas," Sabres goalie Ryan Miller said. "They all count and they were a little bit dirtier. We needed it."

Who's Hot: Cole has 3 goals in his last two games for the Habs, while Max Pacioretty has 5 goals and 5 assists in his last five contests. … Ennis has a pair of goals in his last five games for Buffalo.

Injury Report: Montreal center David Desharnais missed his first game of the season Saturday night with a lower-body injury. The Canadiens are also expected to be without Marhieu Darche (upper body), Travis Moen (upper body), Michael Blunden (knee), Brian Gionta (torn biceps) and Raphael Diaz (lower body). … Sabres winger Patrick Kaleta (neck) and defenseman Andrej Sekera (flu) are day-to-day, while Thomas Vanek (upper body) is doubtful. Matt Ellis (lower body) and Jochen Hecht (concussion) are out.

Stat Pack: Blake Geoffrion, a fourth-generation member of the Canadiens, scored his first goal with the club Saturday night.

Puck Drop: "When he's healthy, he's top-three among the best defensemen in the League. When he comes back, it's a boost of confidence for our team. It's pretty amazing to see a guy like that (come back), but it's great to be able to learn from him and be out there on the power play with him. He's an unbelievable passer." -- Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban on Andrei Markov
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