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Beaulieu returns to Montreal as Sabres meet Canadiens

by Jourdon LaBarber @jourdonlabarber /

MONTREAL - Nathan Beaulieu still remembers how strange it was to have dinner with Shea Weber in Nashville last season. Weber had spent his entire career in Nashville until being traded to Montreal in the offseason, and his emotions going into the game were uncharacteristic. 

"I've never seen Shea get so uncomfortable and nervous, he was so weirded out by the whole situation," Beaulieu recalled. "I never understood it until I did it. It's really weird playing against your old team.'"

Beaulieu will experience playing in Montreal for the first time as a member of the visiting team when the Sabres meet the Canadiens on Saturday night. Beaulieu played 225 games for Montreal over parts of six seasons after being selected by the Canadiens in the first round of the 2011 draft. 

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The experience won't be totally new for Beaulieu. He faced his former teammates once already this season, albeit in Buffalo rather than in Montreal. The Canadiens won that game 3-2 in a shootout.

Coming to Montreal, however, adds a new element that Sabres coach Phil Housley, having played for eight organizations during his NHL career, can attest to.

"I remember going back to Buffalo and it was very emotional," Housley said. "I went to battle with the guys on the other side of the rink. You have to get comfortable right away, get settled into the game and just go about business because if you get caught up in the emotion sometimes that can work against you."

Beaulieu made his return to the lineup in Buffalo's 4-1 loss to Florida on Friday following a seven-game absence due to an upper-body injury. Housley was impressed with the timing he displayed in the offensive zone in 21:06 of action.

"Being out three weeks, I guess I had some fresh legs," Beaulieu said. "I just wanted to bring that offensive instinct to the game. That's what I'm here for, that's what they want me to bring. Skating, getting up in the play and making things happen is part of my game so I'm just going to try to translate that tonight too."

Defenseman Josh Gorges, another former Canadien, will make his return to the lineup after missing the last nine games since sustaining a lower-body injury. Victor Antipin will sit as a healthy scratch to make room for Gorges in the lineup. 

Chad Johnson will start in net for the Sabres. 

Coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. with GMC Gamenight on MSG-B, or you can listen live on WGR 550. The puck drops at 7 p.m. 

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