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NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Saturday, March 23rd (All times Eastern)
Buffalo Sabres (12-15-4) at Montreal Canadiens (20-5-5), 7 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The Buffalo Sabres will try to match their longest winning streak of the season on Saturday night with their second victory in five days against the first-place Montreal Canadiens.
The Sabres have followed up six losses in seven games with back-to-back wins over Montreal and Toronto. They are 6-3-3 in their last 12 overall and will try to match a three-game winning streak from Feb. 26-March 2.
Picking up points in nine of 12 still has Buffalo last in the Northeast Division with 28 points, but only four back of Carolina and the New York Rangers for the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference.
Steve Ott scored twice in a 3-2 victory at the Canadiens on Tuesday, putting home the game-winner 2:16 into overtime. Tyler Ennis also scored and Jhonas Enroth made 32 saves.
The Sabres have won 10 of their past 12 versus the Canadiens overall and six of the last seven in Montreal.
Thomas Vanek, who leads Buffalo with 14 goals and 17 assists this season, suffered a lower body injury when he was hit by a slap shot from teammate Christian Ehrhoff during the Montreal game and did not play in Thursday's 5-4 shootout win over the visiting Maple Leafs.
Vanek, though, expects to return for this game and scored a pair of third- period goals in a 5-4 shootout win at home over Montreal on Feb. 7. He also scored in the shootout and had Buffalo's lone goal in a 6-1 defeat in Montreal five days earlier.
Without Vanek, Ehrhoff had a goal and an assist versus the Leafs, while Ennis, Marcus Foligno and Jason Pominville also scored. Drew Stafford and Ott added shootout tallies and Ryan Miller made 30 saves in the win.
"It wasn't our best game tonight but we got the win," said Miller. "But we battled back and had a lead, but you have to credit the Leafs because they played a great game tonight. This was one of the tougher games we've had this season."
Cody Hodgson had three assists for the Sabres, who begin a three-game road trip and are 1-3-2 in their last seven as the guest.
The Canadiens followed up their overtime loss to Buffalo with a 5-2 victory at the New York Islanders on Thursday. Brian Gionta scored the first of three third-period goals for the Habs, while P.K. Subban and rookie Brendan Gallagher were both credited with goals in the frame that went in off Islander players.
Subban ended with two goals and Michael Ryder added a score for the Habs, who are 6-0-1 in their last seven and 14-1-4 since a 6-0 home loss to Toronto on Feb. 9. The lone regulation loss in that span came versus the Islanders on March 5.
Tomas Plekanec, Max Pacioretty and David Desharnais each had two assists for the Canadiens, who got a 25-save effort from Carey Price as well.
"We got lucky and we capitalized on a couple opportunities," Price said.
The Canadiens remained two points ahead of Boston for first place in the Northeast with 45 points. The Bruins are visiting the Maple Leafs on Saturday.
Montreal is also three points behind first-place Pittsburgh in the East.
Desharnais and Rene Bourque scored twice in the 6-1 home win over the Sabres on Feb. 2, while Price had 30 saves.
03/23 10:50:38 ET