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Sabres seek to bounce back vs. Canadiens

by Mike G. Morreale
SABRES (35-28-9) at CANADIENS (40-26-7)

TV -- RDS (HD), TSN (HD), MSG-B (HD)

Last 10 --
Buffalo 5-3-2; Montreal 7-3-0

Season series --
This will be the sixth and final meeting of the regular season between the clubs. Sabres rookie goalie Jhonas Enroth stopped seven of Montreal's final eight shooters in the shootout and Jochen Hecht scored on Buffalo's 10th attempt to give his team a 3-2 win in Montreal in the most recent matchup on Feb. 15. The Sabres won the shootout 4-3 as the teams matched the NHL record for most goals in a shootout. The Canadiens won the first three meetings of the series and Buffalo has taken the next two.

Big story --
The Canadiens, who have won eight of their last 11 games, are sixth in the Eastern Conference with 40 wins and 87 points -- two behind fifth-seeded Tampa Bay. The Sabres, who have missed the playoffs two of the previous three seasons, are eighth in the East, three points back of the seventh-place New York Rangers and three ahead of Carolina in ninth. The Sabres' last 10 games are split between home and away.

Team Scope:

Sabres -- Buffalo wasted a golden opportunity to strengthen its position in the Eastern Conference after failing to hold a 3-1 lead with just 2:27 left in the third period against Nashville on Sunday. Rookie Blake Geoffrion scored three goals, including two 1:02 apart in the waning minutes of regulation, and Martin Erat completed the comeback 27 seconds into overtime as the Predators stormed to a 4-3 victory over the stunned Sabres. Tim Connolly, Nathan Gerbe and Tyler Ennis scored second-period goals for Buffalo, which dropped to 19-3-2 in games in which they led after two periods.

Canadiens -- Less than 24 hours after suffering a 6-3 loss to the Rangers, the Canadiens rebounded with an 8-1 victory over the Minnesota Wild on Sunday. The outburst, in which seven of the goals were scored at even strength, represented the best offensive output by the Canadiens this season. Against the Rangers, goalie Carey Price was replaced after yielding five goals on 12 shots in the first period. On Sunday, the Habs chased former Montreal goaltender Jose Theodore after scoring five goals on 19 shots. Defenseman P.K. Subban led the attack with the first hat trick of his career while goalie Alex Auld made 30 saves.

Who's hot -- Since Feb. 22, Canadiens right wing Andrei Kostitsyn has 6 goals and 12 points in 13 games. … Buffalo left wing Tyler Ennis scored for the second straight game in the loss to the Predators, giving him 7 goals, 12 points and a plus-3 rating over the last 14 games.

Injury report -- Montreal is without centers Tomas Plekanec and Jeff Halpern, who are sidelined with lower-body injuries, as well as forwards Max Pacioretty (neck) and Mathieu Darche (groin). Defensively, the Canadiens are without Andrei Markov, Josh Georges and Jaroslav Spacek. … Buffalo forward Jochen Hecht (upper body) and defenseman Steve Montador (lower body) are both day-to-day. Forward Patrick Kaleta has been sidelined with a bone bruise to his left knee, while a knee injury has goalie Patrick Lalime out indefinitely.

Stat pack -- Subban's hat trick against the Wild marked the first ever for a Canadiens rookie defenseman and was the first hat trick by a Montreal blue liner since Sheldon Souray did it against Nashville in December 2003.

Puck drop --
"We just need to take care of our own business and that's a great situation to be in," Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff said. "We're not Toronto. We're not Atlanta and we're not Jersey. We've been in that situation and that's a lot tougher situation to be in."

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