Sabres vs. Canadiens
Tuesday at the Bell Centre, 7:30 p.m., SNE, RDS, TSN Radio 690
Closer than you think: The Canadiens, who were given the day off on Monday, are one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference and the Buffalo Sabres have the worst record in the NHL and have lost their last 14 games. Mismatch, right? Not necessarily, says the Canadiens’ Tomas Plekanec, who notes that Buffalo has had the edge over Montreal this season, taking five of a possible six points against the Canadiens. The Canadiens were 2-1 winners in a shootout in Buffalo on Nov. 5, but the Sabres posted back-to-back victories on Nov. 28-29, winning 2-1 in Buffalo and 4-3 in overtime at the Bell Centre.
Hard to beat this Price: Canadiens goaltender Carey Price returns after taking a one-game break and is working on a shutout string of 153 minutes and three seconds. He is No. 2 in the NHL in save percentage (.933), third in goals-against average (2.03), tied for second in wins (27) and tied for fifth in shutouts (four). On Monday, the NHL named him the first star of the week after he finished with a 3-0 record and a 0.66 goals-against average.
Offence sputtering: The Canadiens have scored only four goals in their last three games with Max Pacioretty and Alex Galchenyuk each scoring twice. Pacioretty is in the top 10 in the NHL in goals (23) and plus/minus (plus-23). The Canadiens’ biggest problem has been a dearth of scoring from the bottom two lines and they’re in trouble if Lars Eller can’t go after suffering a lower-body injury against Arizona on Sunday.
Cross-country tour: This is the fourth and final stop on a cross-Canada road trip for the Sabres, who were outscored a combined 12-5 in Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver. Buffalo hasn’t won since Dec. 27 when the Sabres beat the New York Islanders 4-3 in a shootout. The Sabres have the worst power play in the NHL, rank last in goals for and goals against, and are 29th on the penalty kill. This is a team that’s hoping to rebuild through the draft — it has three first-round picks and three second-round picks in June.
Homecoming: Former Canadiens Brian Gionta and Josh Gorges have provided the Sabres with leadership, but little else. Gionta has four goals and nine assists, while Gorges continues to be among the NHL leaders in blocked shots, but he’s also minus-27.
Sick bay: Eller said he expects to play, but that decision is on hold until Tuesday’s morning skate. P.A. Parenteau is still out with a concussion, but says he’ll resume skating this week. For the Sabres, Mike Foligno (hand) and Cody McCormick (blood clot) are on the injured-reserve list, while goaltender Michal Neuvirth is day-to-day with a lower-body injury.
Habs call up de la Rose: The Canadiens announced Monday afternoon that they have called up Jacob de la Rose from the AHL’s Hamilton Bulldogs. In 37 games with Hamilton, the 19-year-old has six goals, five assists and 11 penalty minutes. He was captain of Team Sweden at this year’s World Junior Hockey Championship. The Canadiens selected him in the second round (34th overall) at the 2013 NHL entry draft.
(Photo by John Kenney/Montreal Gazette)
Habs and Leafs headed in opposite directions, by Jack Todd for Montreal Gazette