NHL Preview from The Sports Network|
Saturday, April 3rd
(All times eastern)
Buffalo Sabres (43-24-10) at Montreal Canadiens (38-32-8), 7 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The Buffalo Sabres hope to get a chance at clinching the
Northeast Division title when they visit the Montreal Canadiens tonight at
The Sabres enter Saturday with a five-point lead over Ottawa for the division
crown. Buffalo can claim its first Northeast title since 2006-07 if the
Senators lose in regulation this afternoon against the New York Islanders and
the Sabres follow up with a victory tonight in Montreal.
Buffalo, which has already clinched a playoff berth, also comes into today
with a one-point lead over Pittsburgh and New Jersey for the East's second
seed. Both the Penguins and Devils have games on Saturday.
As for tonight's matchup, the Sabres lost their first game of the season to
Montreal but have since won four straight in the series. Buffalo has taken
seven of eight overall from the Habs and has won three in a row in Montreal.
While the Sabres have already punched their ticket to the playoffs, Montreal
is still locked in a dog fight for a place in the postseason. The Canadiens
are holding on to the sixth seed in the East, but are just two points ahead of
Boston and Philadelphia for the final two playoff berths. Atlanta and the New
York Rangers are lurking just two points further back.
Montreal earned an important victory Friday night in Philadelphia, downing the
Flyers by a 1-0 score in regulation. Jaroslav Halak stopped all 35 shots he
faced to post his fourth shutout of the season.
"Especially in third period, the puck was all over me," Halak said of the home
team's pressure. "I was lucky but we'll take it."
Tomas Plekanec recorded the lone score for the Canadiens, who had lost five of
six coming into Friday's contest.
Montreal played the Flyers without forward Sergei Kostitsyn (lower body) and
defenseman Jaroslav Spacek (flu-like symptoms). Both players are questionable
for tonight's test.
The Canadiens are 19-16-4 as the host and are playing their second-to-last
home game of the regular season. Montreal will play its next two games on the
road before returning home for its season finale against Toronto next
The Sabres had a three-game winning streak halted their last time out,
dropping a 4-2 decision Thursday in Toronto. Luke Schenn was credited with the
game-winning goal in the third period for the Maple Leafs, who sent Buffalo to
just its second loss in nine games.
Derek Roy and Steve Montador scored for Buffalo, while Ryan Miller allowed
three goals on 33 shots in the loss.
Buffalo forwards Thomas Vanek and Tim Connolly both missed the game with
lower-body injuries and are expected to sit out tonight as well. Vanek has sat
out the last three games, while Connolly has missed the last four.
The Sabres had won four straight on the road prior to Thursday's loss. Buffalo
is 19-14-4 as the guest this season.
04/03 10:54:39 ET