Buffalo Sabres (3-3-1) at Montreal Canadiens (4-2-0), 2 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The Buffalo Sabres hope to have gained some momentum from
an impressive victory in their last outing when they visit the Montreal
Canadiens for Saturday's battle at the Bell Centre.
The Sabres had lost four straight games heading into Thursday's contest in
Boston, but Buffalo halted the slide with a 7-4 rout of the Bruins. It marked
the first time Boston had lost in regulation this season.
Thomas Vanek was the star for Buffalo, tallying a hat trick and two assists to
lead the way in the blowout at TD Garden. It was Vanek's second five-point
game of the season after he posted two goals and three assists against
Philadelphia to kick off Buffalo's campaign on Jan. 20. He is the first player
since Pittsburgh's Mario Lemieux in 1992-93 to record five or more points
twice in his team's first seven games of the season.
The Austrian winger has recorded a point in every game he has played this
season, notching six goals and nine assists over his six contests while
missing one game with a lower body injury. Vanek's 15 points are currently
tops in the NHL.
"Pucks are going in right now for me," Vanek said. "There's going to be
stretches where nothing goes my way. So you like it right now, but you know
it's going to head the other way."
Cody Hodgson added a goal and two assists for the Sabres, who fell behind 4-3
early in the third period before scoring four unanswered goals to finish the
game. Hodgson centered a line with Vanek and Jason Pominville, who is second
on the team with 12 points this season.
"It was pretty easy. Just get open and wait for the puck," Hodgson said of
Buffalo's top unit. "They battle hard on every puck and we played well
Alex Sulzer, Tyler Ennis and Jason Pominville also lit the lamp, while Ryan
Miller made 38 saves.
Buffalo has won eight of its last nine games against the Canadiens and the
Habs have dropped five straight as the host.
While Buffalo snapped a four-game slide this week, the Canadiens had a four-
game winning streak come to an abrupt halt Wednesday evening in Ottawa.
Daniel Alfredsson, Mika Zibanejad and Chris Phillips scored for the Senators
during a span of less than four minutes in the second period as Ottawa breezed
to a 5-1 triumph.
Tomas Plekanec recorded the lone goal for Montreal, which allowed Ottawa to
score twice on five power-play chances.
"The penalties broke our rhythm," Montreal coach Michel Therrien said. "We
lost a lot of fights in front of the net and that didn't make it easy on Peter
Budaj was tagged for all five goals on 27 shots in his first start of the
season for Montreal. Regular No. 1 netminder Carey Price is 4-1-0 on the year
and will be back in net against Buffalo.
The Habs are 3-1-0 as the host this season and are beginning a three-game
homestand on Saturday.