NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Sunday, January 3rd (All times eastern)
Buffalo Sabres (25-11-4) at Montreal Canadiens (21-19-3), 3 p.m.
(Sports Network) - After a very successful road trip, the Montreal Canadiens return home for the first time in over two weeks to host the Buffalo Sabres at the Bell Centre.
Montreal returns home for the first time since December 17 off the heels of a 6-1-0 swing. That has helped the club move to seventh in the Eastern Conference with 45 points, nine back of first-place Buffalo in the Northeast Division.
The Canadiens' trek ended on Thursday with a 5-4 victory over the Panthers. Benoit Pouliot's third-period goal was the difference, and both Michael Cammalleri and Marc-Andre Bergeron scored on the power play.
Montreal, which had lost five straight before its road trip, also got goals from Tomas Plekanec and Hal Gill, and 32 saves by Jaroslav Halak.
Andrei Markov notched three assists and had three goals and eight assists on the seven-game road trip, which saw him return from a 35-game absence due to a lacerated ankle tendon suffered in Montreal's first game of the season.
The Habs will play five of their next six at home, where they are 9-9-2 this year and have lost three straight, and have a trio of players questionable for this contest. Paul Mara continues to battle a swollen left hand, while brothers Sergei (lower body) and Andrei Kostitsyn (undisclosed) are also suffering from injury.
It was Carey Price who was in net for Montreal's 2-1 overtime win over Buffalo on October 3, improving to 5-3-2 with a 2.35 goals-against average in his career versus the Sabres, while Halak has been in goal for the previous two meetings, both losses. He is 2-2-0 with a 3.94 GAA versus Buffalo.
The Sabres earned a 4-3 win in Montreal on December 14 for just their third win in their last 10 trips to the Bell Centre. Buffalo has won five of its last six versus the Canadiens overall.
Ryan Miller, named to the U.S. Olympic squad on Friday, is 2-1-0 with a 2.30 GAA this year versus Montreal. Among the league leaders with a 2.08 GAA, .932 save percentage and four shutouts, he made 32 saves in helping Buffalo rally from a three-goal deficit on Friday versus Atlanta for a 4-3 overtime win.
It marked the second straight game the Sabres had come back from being three goals down, also doing so on Tuesday to beat the Penguins. Buffalo is the first team to do that since Dallas in January of 2006.
Derek Roy got the game-winner 4:02 into overtime, as Tyler Myers' dump in from the blue line took a strange bounce of the boards and into the slot. Roy was there to put the puck into an empty net, as Atlanta netminder Johan Hedberg had moved behind the net to play the puck.
Jochen Hecht had two goals and an assist for the Sabres, who won their third straight. Tim Connolly added a goal and an assist, but head coach Lindy Ruff wasn't pleased with his team's effort.
"We're not going to keep coming back from 3-0. If Ryan wouldn't have kept us alive, we probably wouldn't have had a chance," Ruff said.
Buffalo, five points up on second-place Boston in the division, has won six of its last eight on the road.
01/03 12:07:28 ET