For the second time in five nights, the Montreal Canadiens are home to the Buffalo Sabres. On Tuesday night, despite overpowering their opponent, they came away with just a single point, falling 4-3 in O.T. on a goal by the loveable, charming Steve Ott. If the Canadiens play the same way, they can expect a different outcome.
The Canadiens are behind in the season series so far, laying a 6-1 beat-down on the Sabres in P.K. Subban's early season debut, before enduring a 5-4 shootout loss as part of a stretch that was the Canadiens low point for the season thus far.
After facing Jhonas Enroth on Tuesday, the Canadiens can likely expect Ryan Miller between the pipes for this evening's matchup. Miller is 10-13-4 on the year, posting a .908 save percentage. He was also the main victim in Canadiens six goal assault, allowing four before sitting out the final twenty minutes.
Montreal is expected to keep rolling with Carey Price, who was in net for Tuesday's OT loss and Thursday's victory. Price has produced a 16-4-4 record, a .912 save percentage, and is increasingly showing flashes of brilliance as the stretch run begins.
The Sabres most dangerous player by far, Thomas Vanek, will return from an injury suffered Tuesday night. Vanek took the brunt of a Christian Ehrhoff slapshot, and missed the Sabres Thursday game against the Leafs. However, the Buffalo News reports that Vanek skated in yesterday's practice, and should be good to go for tonight. Outside of Vanek, the Sabres only other injury consideration is that of defenceman Andrej Sekera. Sekera was replaced by phantom high-stick victim Mark Pysyk on Tuesday, and that same roster configuration may well be the one that takes the ice tonight.
Outside of the always dangerous Vanek, the Canadiens have allowed three goals in three games from the aforementioned Ott. However, given that Ott is getting killed on possession against Montreal while assuming a defensive, tough-competition type of role, it seems like his 50% shooting caliber of luck might be due to run out soon.
The Canadiens are still dealing with the same slough of injuries - Bourque, Diaz, Prust, Weber, and now Ryan White. White will be replaced by Mike Blunden for this evening's affair.
While Bourque will be denied the opportunity to build on the four points he posted in his two games against the Sabres this year, erstwhile linemate Tomas Plekanec should continue to be productive. Max Pacioretty will look for at least two points to get back to his point-per-game pace, while Subban will look to build on his NHL defenseman-leading goal total.