(SportsNetwork.com) – The sliding Montreal Canadiens have struggled to put the
puck in the net during their three-game losing streak, but the Habs hope to
solve their scoring woes and return to the win column when they visit the
Buffalo Sabres in Wednesday’s battle at First Niagara Center.
The Canadiens began the season with an impressive 7-1-0 mark, but since then
Montreal has gone 1-3-1 while dropping four of their last five contests.
Montreal’s latest setback came Tuesday evening against the visiting Chicago
Blackhawks, who notched a 5-0 victory and dealt the Habs their second shutout
defeat of the season, both of which have come over the past five tilts.
Montreal has been credited with five goals over the past five games and one of
those tallies was for beating Calgary last Tuesday in a shootout. The
Canadiens are currently ranked 27th in the league this season with an average
of 2.15 goals per game.
The Habs defense hasn’t been firing on all cylinders either, with Montreal
yielding a total of 11 goals over its past two losses. The Canadiens were
handed a 6-2 home defeat by Calgary on Sunday before getting routed by the
The Canadiens sent 28 shots Corey Crawford’s way on Tuesday, but the Montreal
native stopped every one to record the shutout. Kris Versteeg scored a pair of
goals to help the Blackhawks cruise to victory.
Carey Price was on the hook for all five goals on 32 shots for the Canadiens,
who have lost three in a row for the first time since March 6-12 of last
“Despite the loss, I liked our intensity in the first half of the game,” said
Canadiens coach Michel Therrien. “Usually we show a lot more character, but it
wasn’t there tonight. We now have to focus and remember to play three periods
After getting swept in a brief homestand, the Canadiens are on the road for
just one game before returning to Montreal for a four-game stay at the Bell
Centre. The Habs are 4-2-1 as the visiting team this season.
Montreal hopes to get back on track against the Sabres, who have dropped the
last five meetings in this series. The Habs also have claimed three straight
in Western New York.
The Sabres, however, are coming off just their third win in 13 games after
edging the visiting Detroit Red Wings in Sunday’s shootout decision. Buffalo
had lost three straight and seven of its previous eight games before notching
the 3-2 win over the Wings.
Sunday’s victory also was the first home win for the Sabres this season,
improving Buffalo’s record at First Niagara Center to 1-4-1. The Sabres are
playing the second part of a four-game homestand tonight.
Zemgus Girgensons scored the winner in the shootout for Buffalo in the third
round. Girgensons deked back to the forehand and lifted the puck into the left
corner of the net. Michal Neuvirth preserved the win by not biting on Henrik
Zetterberg’s fake and making the stop.
Brian Flynn and Chris Stewart scored in regulation for the Sabres, while
Neuvirth stopped 36 shots in the win.
Although he leads the Sabres with 32 shots on net this season, Stewart’s tally
was his first of the campaign.
“That one felt good,” Stewart said. “I’ve had ample opportunities around the
net, some golden chances this year. I’ve been a little bit snake bitten. To
get that one, hopefully tides will turn.”
Buffalo will try to record consecutive wins for the first time this season.
The Sabres last registered back-to-back victories during a three-game winning
streak from Feb. 25-28.
Neuvirth will get the start for Buffalo tonight and he boasts a 5-3-0 record
and 2.24 goals against average in his career versus the Habs. Montreal backup
Dustin Tokarski, who is expected to give Price a rest tonight, has never faced