The Buffalo Sabres (30-31-8) will play host to a division rival in the Montreal Canadiens (31-31-9) on Thursday night. Puck drop is scheduled for 7 pm local time. As mentioned, these teams both reside in the same conference and division. In fact, they’re neighbors in both rankings. The Sabres are 6th in the Atlantic Division and tied for 13th in the Eastern Conference with 68 points, while the Canadiens are 5th in the Atlantic and 12th in the east with 71 points. Thursday will be the third of four scheduled regular-season meetings between these two teams. Their last one took place a couple of months ago, on January 30th. The game was played on the Sabres’ home ice, though they were unable to come away with a win. The Canadiens won the match 3-1, mostly due to two goals scored just over two minutes apart. That win tied the season series at 1-1.
Sabres Notch Win Against The Metro’s BestThe Buffalo Sabres currently sit 13 points out of a wildcard spot. It’s the same distance to tying for a top-three spot in the Atlantic. If it was the middle of January, this might not seem like such a lofty goal to reach. However, with only 13 games left in their season, the Sabres will have to win at least seven of those, and that’s only if the teams ahead of them spontaneously stop winning. Since that’s rather unlikely to happen, the Sabres having quite a fight ahead of them. They did pick up a bit of momentum in their most recent match, though. After going on a six-game losing streak, they were finally able to pull out a win. It was against a rather unsuspected opponent as well. On Monday night they faced off against the best team in the Metropolitan Division, the Washington Capitals.
The Capitals, who have had a bit of a spotty record in their recent matches, made the trip up to Buffalo to face the Sabres on their home ice. It took five minutes of overtime and eight rounds of a shootout, but the score was settled at 3-2 in the Sabres’ favor. Buffalo led for a majority of the game and didn’t trail once. They had the only goals in the first two-thirds of the match, having gotten started early when Victor Olofsson scored his 20th of the year at 4:53 in the first period. The only other regulation Sabres goal came from Jack Eichel just 53 seconds into the second period. Rasmus Dahlin assisted on both goals and scored one of Buffalo’s two shootout goals. Two Washington goals in the final period evened things up, and neither team was able to find the back of the net in the shootout. In the end, it took eight rounds of a shootout before Dominik Kahun ended things with a goal against the Caps. Between the pipes for Buffalo was Linus Ullmark, who stopped 33 of the 35 shots he faced during regulation, and 6 of the 7 shots in the shootout.
Canadiens In Need Of WinThe Montreal Canadiens find themselves on a losing streak at the worst possible time. They’ve lost their last three consecutive games, and out of their last ten, they’ve dropped six. Given the fact they’re still a ways off from a secure playoff spot, they’ll need to turn this kind of play around sooner rather than later. While in a better position than their upcoming foe, the Canadiens still need at least 10 points to even tie for a playoff position and much more than that to fully secure one. That’s far from an impossible task, but, same as the Sabres, they’re quickly running out of time to accomplish it. The most recent of their losses came on Tuesday night when they faced off against the Nashville Predators at home.
he first twenty minutes of the game was uneventful and other than Nashville leading them in shots things were even. However, that quickly changed in the second period. The Predators scored four goals over the course of the twenty-minute period, while the Canadiens were unable to generate any offense. Things looked bleak for a time, but the Canadiens did manage a small comeback. In the third period, they scored two goals but weren’t able to close the gap and the final score was 4-2 in the Predators’ favor. The Canadiens did significantly lead the Predators in hits, as they had 36 to Nashville’s 17. Montreal’s first goal was scored a little under three minutes into the third period by Artturi Lehkonen. It was his 13th of the season. The only other Habs goal came at 8:40 in the third period. It was scored by Lukas Vejdemo, and it was the young forward’s first career NHL goal. In net for the Habs was Carey Price, who allowed 4 goals on 36 shots for a .889 save percentage.
- The Canadiens are 10-20-3 overall when their opponent scores first.
- The Canadiens are 2-7 in one-goal games at home.
- The Sabres are 22-11-2 overall when scoring first.
- The Sabres are 8-3-0 when leading after the first period on the road.