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Still seeking first home win, Sabres host Canadiens

by Brian Hunter
CANADIENS (7-4-1) at SABRES (3-8-2)


Last 10:
Montreal 6-3-1; Buffalo 2-6-2

Season Series:
Second of six meetings this season between these Northeast Division rivals, with Montreal already owning a win at HSBC Arena. Carey Price made 22 saves and was backed from goals by defensemen Alexandre Picard and Josh Gorges in a 2-1 victory on Oct. 15. Derek Roy scored in the third for Buffalo to break up Price's shutout bid.

Big Story: Teams residing at opposite ends of the Northeast standings face off in this game, as the Canadiens look to protect their one-point lead in the division over the surging Bruins, while the Sabres are just desperate for a win. Their 8 points are tied with the Panthers and Oilers for fewest in the NHL, and they're 0-5-1 on home ice this season.

Team Scope:

Canadiens: Price has given Montreal fairly consistent goaltending night in and night out, but he hasn't gotten the offensive support during a two-game losing streak the Canadiens will be looking to snap Friday. It hasn't necessarily been for a lack of trying -- they fired a combined 70 shots on net against the Panthers and Blue Jackets, but came away with 3-1 and 3-0 defeats.

"We've got some lines that are creating some opportunities and other lines are not," coach Jacques Martin said after Tuesday's loss in Columbus. "We'll look at the video and analyze and see what we can bring as far as a solution for the next game."

Sabres: The last thing Buffalo needs as it tries to fight its way out of a horrendous start is having to play games without reigning Vezina Trophy winner Ryan Miller. That's the reality of the moment, however, as a lower-body injury suffered by Miller led to rookie Jhonas Enroth starting in a 5-2 loss to Boston on Wednesday. Enroth allowed three first-period goals and Patrick Lalime finished out the game for the Sabres, who currently look nothing like the team that won the Northeast last season.

"We're looking at trying to get a win, and guys are uptight before we even start the game," said captain Craig Rivet, who returned to the lineup after a two-game benching. "The breakdowns are coming from guys squeezing their sticks like it's a grenade."

Who's Hot: Montreal has looked comfortable on the road this season, winning four in a row prior to its defeat in Columbus.

Injury Report: Miller remains day-to-day for Buffalo, which also has forward Nathan Gerbe on injured reserve with a broken jaw.

Stat Pack: The Canadiens are the only NHL team that has not given up more than three goals in a game this season. … Sabres coach Lindy Ruff, who was inducted into the Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame on Thursday, will coach his 998th NHL game. He's due to reach the 1,000-game plateau on Nov. 10 at New Jersey.

Puck Drop:
These teams have combined for three goals over their last 120 minutes of play, so this sets up to be a low-scoring affair. If Miller can return it would be a huge boost for Buffalo, which has spent the first month of the season struggling to find answers.

"Until you really deserve to win, you're not going to win. We didn't deserve to win," Ruff told the Buffalo News after Wednesday's loss. "[The embarrassment] is getting worse."

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