Canadiens-Sabres Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated March 20, 2012
The Buffalo Sabres have won four of the season's five meetings with the Montreal Canadiens. The one loss, however, may have been a blessing in disguise as it seems to have sparked their playoff push. The surging Sabres look to pull into a tie for points with the Eastern Conference's eighth-place team when they host the Canadiens on Wednesday night in the final meeting between these Northeast Division rivals. A 4-3 shootout loss to Montreal at home Feb. 17 marked a fourth straight defeat for Buffalo (34-29-10) and dropped it into a tie for last place in the East, nine points out of a playoff spot. Following the game, coach Lindy Ruff said he felt "disappointed" and "embarrassed." The Sabres have responded by going 10-2-3 since to move within two points of eighth-place Washington, which will have played one fewer game than Buffalo when it takes the ice Thursday. "Getting closer to where we want to be is fun," forward Jason Pominville said after Monday's 7-3 win over Tampa Bay. "That's what it's all about, so we'll try to keep climbing, and we're slowly getting to where we want to be." Pominville and Marcus Foligno each scored twice against the Lightning, while Drew Stafford, Corey Tropp and Brad Boyes also had goals in Buffalo's highest-scoring game of the season. Pominville, Buffalo's leader with 27 goals and 39 assists, has four goals and three assists in his last seven games. Foligno, meanwhile, has been a surprising offensive catalyst over the last week. Since being called up from the minors, Foligno has five goals and two assists in five games, with the Sabres earning a point in each (3-0-2). That stretch includes a 3-2 overtime win over the Canadiens (28-32-13) on March 12. Buffalo allowed David Desharnais to score the tying goal with five seconds left in regulation, but Tyler Myers scored 2:01 into overtime. Earlier in the game, Myers struck a defenseless Scott Gomez into the boards and received a minor boarding penalty. The following day, Myers was suspended three games without pay for that hit and this will be his first contest back. Gomez was diagnosed with a concussion and hasn't played since. Tyler Ennis scored Buffalo's other two goals in last week's meeting and Ryan Miller stopped 26 shots to help the Sabres beat the Canadiens for the seventh time in eight games. Miller, who is 7-1-2 with a 2.15 goals-against average and two shutouts in his last 10 starts, is 5-0-1 with a 1.31 GAA and a shutout in his past six versus Montreal. The 2010 Vezina Trophy winner has had to be on top of his game against the Canadiens because counterpart Carey Price has been almost as good. Price has a 1.94 GAA in his last seven starts against the Sabres but is 1-3-3. Price, who is 3-6-1 with a 2.77 GAA in his last 10 starts, is expected to be in net Wednesday after getting the night off in Saturday's 3-2 shootout loss to the New York Islanders. Aaron Palushaj recorded his first NHL goal and Louis Leblanc also scored for Montreal, which has collected points in six straight games (3-0-3) but is still in last place in the East.
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