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NHL Preview from The Sports Network



Friday, November 7th (All times eastern)

Montreal Canadiens (6-7-0-0) at Buffalo Sabres (6-6-1-0), 8 p.m.

(Sports Network) - The Montreal Canadiens try to put the brakes on a two-game losing streak tonight when they open a home-and-home series with the Buffalo Sabres at HSBC Arena.

The Canadiens will also welcome captain Saku Koivu into the lineup for the first time all season. Koivu has been sidelined since spraining his right knee in the preseason.

Koivu, who has had a history of injuries in his career, missed long stretches of games between 1997 and 2001 with knee, shoulder and hand ailments. He also missed all but the final three games of the 2001-02 regular season after a battle with cancer, but bounced back last season to play in all 82 games.

The 28-year-old native of Finland tallied 21 goals to go along with 50 assists last season.

Koivu's return could not come at a better time, as Montreal suffered its fifth loss in six games on Tuesday with a 4-2 setback to the Edmonton Oilers.

Sheldon Souray scored both goals for the Canadiens, who dropped below the .500 mark (6-7-0). Souray has accounted for four of the six goals Montreal has scored during its last six games. He also has two of the three Canadiens' multi-goal games this season,

Mathieu Garon made 13 saves in defeat. Jose Theodore should be back in net tonight. Theodore leads the NHL with three shutouts, but has allowed five or more goals four times already this season.

Only four teams in the Eastern Conference scored fewer than Montreal's 206 goals last season. This year only the Pittsburgh Penguins' 22 markers are less than the Canadiens, who have found the back of the net 26 times.

Montreal, which has lost each of the six games when its opponent has scored first, is 2-2 away from home this season.

Buffalo, meanwhile, enters Friday's tilt on the heels of a 7-4 loss to the Atlanta Thrashers on Wednesday. Taylor Pyatt had three assists for the Sabres, who lost for just the second time in seven games (4-2-1).

Martin Biron, who had allowed eight goals in his previous five games, surrendered seven goals on 21 shots before being replaced by Mika Noronen.

Biron, though, has had success against Montreal and owns a lifetime 8-2-0 record against the Canadiens with a 1.97 goals-against average.

Buffalo actually held a 3-1 lead towards the end of the second period, but Atlanta scored six unanswered goals and the Sabres never recovered.

Defenseman Andy Delmore was scratched for the third consecutive game on Wednesday. Delmore has no points in 10 games after leading all NHL rearguards last season with 14 power-play goals.

The Sabres have won their last three meetings with the Canadiens and have been victorious in seven of the last eight matchups. Montreal has also lost four straight in Buffalo.

Tonight´┐Żs contest will be the 200th game between the two and the 100th in Buffalo.

11/07 13:28:42 ET

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