The Canadiens (19-5-4) are home to host the struggling Buffalo Sabres (10-15-4) Tuesday night at the Bell Centre. The game is set to start at 7:30 and can be seen on RDS and TSN.
This is the third of five meetings between the Habs and Sabres. Montreal is 1-0-1 against Buffalo so far this season, they lost 5-4 by way of shootout earlier in the season after the Sabres battled back from down 4-2 in the third period, scoring the game tying goal with under 2 seconds remaining.
What to Watch:
Tomas Plekanec leads the Habs with 12 goals this season, he scored the game winner Saturday against New Jersey. The goal extended Plekanec’s point streak to 4 games. Jarred Tinordi earned his first NHL in his first pro game on Saturday. The 6’6” defenseman played just under 15 minutes, picked up an assist and finished the night at +2.
Cody Hodgson scored a pair of goals in Buffalo’s 5-3 loss to the Caps on Sunday. With 12 goals and 24 points, Hodgson is second on the team in both categories, behind only Thomas Vanek who leads the Sabres with 14 goals, 17 assists and 31 points. Hodgson picked up 41 points last year in his first full NHL season, he has the opportunity to improve on those numbers this year even with the shortened schedule.
What’s at Stake:
The Canadiens have slipped to second place in the East. They are 2 points back of the Penguins, who have won their last 9 straight, but the Habs still hold 2 games in hand. Buffalo has struggled this season, Lindy Ruff, the longest serving NHL head coach, was fired earlier this season, and GM Darcy Regier may not be too far behind. Montreal will want to take advantage of the Sabres’ struggles and extend their 4-game winning streak.
Michael Ryder (lower body) is expected to return to the lineup Tuesday, he missed Saturday’s game with a lower body injury. Brandon Prust (shoulder) should be close to a return as well although he likely won’t play Tuesday. Rene Bourque (concussion) and Rafael Diaz (concussion) are both progressing with their recoveries but there is no set timeline for either one’s return.
For the Sabres, Andrej Sekera (upper body) missed Sunday’s game abut could return to the lineup Tuesday. Alexander Sulzer (knee) will miss the rest of the season after undergoing surgery to repair his ACL.
Colby Armstrong scored his first goal with the Habs to open the scoring in Jersey Saturday. In 28 games this season the Habs have scored first in 21. Only the Pittsburgh Penguins can compare to the Canadiens in that regard, they’ve also scored first 21 times, albeit in 30 games.
Montreal has been dominant in the first period all season. They’ve outscored their opponents 26-11 in the opening frame and have only trailed twice going into the first intermission. The Habs have done a good job this year of holding onto their leads as well, they have a 15-3-3 record when scoring first and an 11-1-1 record when leading at the first break.
The Question Mark:
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Today’s question: What change since last season has most helped the Habs go from one of the worst NHL teams to one of the best?
Be sure to tune into the Montreal Hockey Talk Pregame Show an hour before the puck drop and the Post Game Show 5 minutes after the final siren. Join the conversation by using the #MTLHockey hashtag on Twitter to take part in the live conversation.