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Sharpen Up: January 31, 2017

by Chris Ryndak @ChrisRyndak /

We're back in action tonight after a few days off. The All-Star Break is over and the Sabres are set to take on the Montreal Canadiens tonight at Bell Centre. 

It'll be the third of four meetings between the Sabres and Canadiens this season. The last time they met? Back on Jan. 21, you might recall that Zach Bogosian scored the winning goal in overtime as Buffalo defeated the Habs 3-2 in Montreal.

Here's what you need to know.

The Sabres are looking to go on a run and put themselves in the real thick of the playoff race. They'll take it one game at a time, starting tonight, as the players told Brian Duff yesterday after practice in Montreal:

Video: Sabres in :90 (1/30/17)

Who's hot?

Captain Brian Gionta has 13 points (10+3) in his last 13 road games against Montreal, including a point in each of his five visits to Bell Centre as a member of the Sabres (4+1).

Evander Kane (2+3) and Cody Franson (1+4) each have five points in their last five games against the Canadiens.

Gionta enters tonight's game on a three-game point streak (2+1) and has at least a point in each of his last five road games, tallying six points (3+3) in those games. A point tonight would give him his longest point streak since he posted points in five straight from Nov. 6 to 16, 2010.

Franson has four points (1+3) in his last four games.

Video: BYLSMA: After Practice

Kane, meanwhile, has nine points (5+4) in his last nine games and enters tonight's game with points in each of his last three, having totaled six points (2+4) in those three games.

Kane has scored each of his 14 goals this season in his last 25 games, including a team-high 13 even-strength goals. In the period since scoring his first goal of the season on Dec. 3 vs. Boston, he is tied for fourth among all NHL skaters in goals (14) and leads the league in even-strength goals (13).

Speaking of No. 9's big run, this is from Jourdon LaBarber's Ice Level Practice Report:

Kane scored 14 goals in 25 games heading into the break, including two in Dallas. That's an average of .56 goals per game which, stretched out over the course of an 82-game season, would put him on pace to score 45 goals.

Kane's career-high for goals in a season is 30, which he reached with Winnipeg in 2011-12. He pointed out the fact that he only played in 74 games in that season and also experienced an 11-game stretch without a goal, the point being that this level of production from him isn't unprecedented. It's simply a matter of staying healthy and staying consistent.

"I think I can score goals a lot of different ways," he said. "Going to the net, using my shot, finishing plays in tight. I think I'm playing right now the way I know I'm capable of playing, I've done it before … If I can stay healthy and continue to feel good with my body I feel that I can do this at a consistent rate."


Amerks All-Stars

We'll have more on this later today in our weekly Amerks update, but Justin Bailey, Cole Schneider and Linus Ullmark put on a good show in last night's AHL All-Star Challenge in Allentown, Penn. The Amerks and their North Division teammates went 1-1-1 as the Central Division repeated as Challenge champions.

Be sure to check out for all of your Amerks news as well.


On tap today

Full gameday coverage will be up for you soon. Jourdon and Duffer are on the scene for the morning skate, which is scheduled to start at around 11:30.

Then make sure you join us for the TOPS Game Night pregame show starting at 7 p.m. on MSG. Dan Dunleavy and Ron Ray will have the call just after 7:30. The game can also be heard live on WGR 550. 

Also, check out a new episode of Beyond Blue and Gold later today. It will also air during tonight's broadcast. 

And Kris Baker's Sabres Prospects Report will be on the way today as well. 

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