The Buffalo Sabres will fight hard for them tonight against the Montreal Canadiens at the Bell Center. They are precious to them, those coveted two points. The Montreal Canadiens will have to make sure to not let the Sabres steal those points either. The Game Preview could be summed up by saying, watch out for those Sabres, they will be tough to beat.
The Sabres, sitting in an uncomfortable position, the infamous 8th spot in the conference, are only 3 points behind the 7th ranked New York Rangers with one game in hand, but more importantly are only 3 and 5 points ahead of Carolina and Toronto respectively. Let's not forget the hottest team in the league, the New Jersey Devils, also working hard towards the 8th spot and only behind the Sabres by 7 points. No doubt the Sabres will be working hard tonight against the Habs.
This will be the sixth and final meeting between both teams this season, a series that is led by the Habs by 3-2. Their previous encounter ended when Buffalo's rookie goaltender Jhonas Enroth stopped seven of Montreal's eight shooters during the shootout and Jochen Hecht managed to beat Price on Buffalo's tenth attempt to give the Sabres the big W.
Montreal is coming off a big win against the Minnesota Wild last Saturday and will seek to continue that streak. Although Tomas Plekanec, Jeff Halpern, Mathieu Darche and Brent Sopel were seen on the ice today as the team carried out the morning skate, no word has been passed on whether any of these ailing players will be part of tonight's lineup.
Carey Price is set to start the game, but did give a bit of a scare to the Habs fans when he left the ice to nurse a leg injury before the practice ended. Don't expect any of the four players listed above to start the game and Sopel may be the only one who is more than likely to return as he was seen practicing alongside Paul Mara.
On the other side, Buffalo is coming off a heart-breaking defeat when they failed to hold on to a 3-1 lead against Nashville on Sunday. They did manage to come out of the game with one point, losing it in overtime, but they will be looking to strengthen their position in the playoff race by winning tonight against the Habs. Jochen Hecht, the shootout hero in their previous encounter against the Habs and defenseman Steve Montador are both day to day and most likely will not play tonight. Forward Patrick Kaleta and goalie Patrick Lalime will also miss tonight's game with long-term injuries.
Five Montreal players have three points each against the Sabres this season, led by Benoit Pouliot who has managed to score three times while Thomas Vanek with four assists and Jason Pominville with 2 goals 1 assist leads Buffalo in scoring against the Habs this season.
Carey Price, who has started all five games against Buffalo has allowed a total of 8 goals with a 1.57 GAA and a save percentage of .950 whereas Ryan Miller, Patrick Lalime and Jhonas Enroth have all shared the netminding duties against the Habs. Miller who played three games against Montreal this season has a .934 SV% and a 1.99 GAA.
The puck is set to drop at 7:30 PM EST at the Bell Center and the game will be televised on RDS and TSN.