The Sabres return to action tonight at 7:30 p.m. in Montreal to face-off against the Habs in a game that could potentially move the team up to 11th place in the Eastern Conference.
After a less-than-stellar road losing streak, Buffalo finally won a game away from home on Jan. 24 against the New Jersey Devils. However, a week has surpassed since the win, so only time will tell if the squad can keep the momentum going and notch a win in their first game after the NHL All-Star game.
Forward Tyler Ennis will return tonight after missing periods of time with a high-ankle sprain. Although he’s only played in 15 games this season, the struggling team needs more offensive production from the sophomore player. He had just 5 points in those 15 games.
Sabres captain Jason Pominville leads both teams with 47 points and 30 assists. Thomas Vanek’s 19 goals match Erik Cole’s for the high of the season among the teams. Hometown boy Marc-Andre Gragnani leads the Sabres with a +10 thus far.
Buffalo is just 2-7-1 in their last 10 games, and went 3-7-1 in the month of January.
The Sabres won both of the previous meetings this season. On October 18, Ryan Miller led Buffalo to a 3-1 victory, while Jhonas Enroth led the 3-2 shootout victory on November 14. Derek Roy, Thomas Vanek and Jason Pominville combined for a total 9 points between the two games.
One key factor for both teams may prove to be penalty killing. The Sabres killed 10 of 11 penalties in the two match-ups, while the Canadiens killed all five of their penalties.
Brian Gionta, Andrei Markov and Travis Moen are all on the injury report for the Canadiens, so center Andreas Engqvist has been called up from the AHL’s Hamilton Bulldogs. The 24-year-old has 13 goals and 11 assists in 29 games with the Bulldogs this season.
The Sabres have four players on injured reserve, and just four players have dressed for every game this season: Vanek, Pominville, Adam, and Enroth.
Although it’s yet to be confirmed, fans may expect All-Star goaltender Carey Price to tend net for the Habs tonight; he’s played in 42 of 50 games so far this season and charmed many fans with his “mic’d up” sessions and personality this past weekend in Ottawa.
It’s unknown who will be in net for the Sabres, who are playing the first of two back-to-back games. After tonight, they’ll return to Buffalo to face off against the NY Rangers, who hold the top spot in the Eastern Conference.
Players to watch: The Canadiens’ Lars Eller is on a three-game point streak, the best in his career. He has 2 goals and 1 assist in the last three games. Left wing Max Pacioretty has scored 7 points in his last six games played. For the Sabres, forward Thomas Vanek needs one more goal to tie Miroslav Satan for seventh-most goals in franchise history. Captain Jason Pominville has recorded at least a point in 34 of the team’s 49 games this season; the team is 11-4-0 when he scores.