Sabres-Canadiens Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated November 13, 2011
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Ryan Miller has been one of the NHL's top goaltenders in recent years for the Buffalo Sabres, making his struggles this season all the more perplexing. With Miller's frustrations mounting and his game consistently off, it's uncertain who will start in net Monday night when Buffalo looks to beat the Montreal Canadiens for the fifth straight time. The Sabres (10-6-0) had their four-game winning streak snapped with a 6-2 loss to Boston on Saturday, as Miller allowed three goals on 22 shots before being pulled prior to the third period in favor of Jhonas Enroth. Miller dropped to 1-5-0 with a 4.16 goals-against average in his last six starts, and he's been lifted in two of his last three. His emotions boiled over after Saturday's defeat as he took exception to a hit from the Bruins' Milan Lucic, who was given a minor for charging Miller and knocking off his mask in the first-period collision. Though Miller didn't speak of it during his postgame tirade, coach Lindy Ruff said Miller had a sore neck following the hit. ''(Lucic has) 50 pounds on me and he runs me like that? It's unbelievable,'' Miller said. ''Everyone in (Boston) sees him as a big tough solid player. I respected him for how hard he played. That was gutless. Gutless.'' Though Miller has won his last three starts with a 0.66 GAA against Montreal, he might not get the nod Monday. Enroth has gone 5-0-0 with a 1.75 GAA in seven games - five starts - this season despite allowing three goals on 10 shots Saturday. Miller made 40 saves in a 3-1 win over Montreal on Oct. 18, part of the Canadiens' 1-5-2 start. However, the club seems to have put those early struggles behind it. Montreal (7-7-2) has won six of eight since those first eight games, during which it scored one or no goals five times. The Canadiens have found their scoring touch and tightened up their defense in front of Carey Price, who has gone 5-2-0 with a 1.86 GAA in his last seven starts. Backup Peter Budaj gave Price a day off Saturday and made 25 saves in a 2-1 overtime victory over Nashville. David Desharnais scored in the first period and assisted on Max Pacioretty's winner. It was the second straight OT victory for Montreal, which beat Phoenix 3-2 on Thursday. "It's been a few games now that we've been working really hard around the net but weren't scoring much," Desharnais told the team's official website. "It was great to finally be paid off." Price likely will be back in net against Buffalo, a team he's performed well against while not always receiving enough offensive support. He hasn't allowed more than two goals in his last 10 starts versus the Sabres, though he's gone 4-3-3 in those matchups despite a 1.47 GAA. Buffalo's Thomas Vanek, who has three goals and an assist over his last three games, scored the winner against Price in the second period Oct. 18. The Canadiens' Andrei Kostitsyn missed his third straight game with a lower-body injury Saturday, and it's uncertain if he'll be in the lineup against the Sabres. Buffalo has won three straight and six of the last eight meetings in Montreal.
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