Extending the best start in franchise history Friday night will result in the Montreal Canadiens adding to the early season woes of an Atlantic Division opponent.
The Canadiens return to the road looking for an 8-0 record as they take on the offensively challenged Buffalo Sabres.
Montreal is the only unbeaten team in the NHL and can double its previous high in wins to start a season Friday. The Canadiens last won eight in a row to close the 2005-06 season.
They’ve trailed once in 2015-16, for less than three minutes, and haven’t scored fewer than three goals or given up more than two. Their seven goals allowed are easily the lowest total in the league.
Montreal opened the season with a four-game trip, and is beginning a stretch of four of five away from home.
"We see one game at a time," coach Michel Therrien told the team’s official website. "It’s like when I’m driving my car. I’m not constantly looking in the mirror to know what’s going on in the back. I’m watching ahead."
One way he’s doing so is by resting star goaltender Carey Price for the second time this season, with rookie Mike Condon set to start this contest. Condon made 20 saves in his NHL debut, a 3-1 win over Ottawa on Oct. 11.
Montreal’s depth and strong defense has given it confidence regardless of who’s in goal.
"We’re rolling four lines and it feels like everyone is a big part of it," right wing Torrey Mitchell told the team’s official website. "Everyone has their role."
Canadiens among the league leaders in plus/minus rating are Andrei Markov (plus-10), Max Pacioretty (nine), P.K. Subban (nine) and Tomas Plekanec (eight). Their penalty killing percentage of 91.7 ranks near the top of the league, and they haven’t surrendered a first-period goal while giving up one in the third.
Montreal allowed one goal while sweeping its three-game homestand against the New York Rangers, Detroit and St. Louis.
Buffalo (2-4-0) has scored once in the opening period. The Sabres have picked up both of their victories at home and won their last three meetings with the Canadiens, but Montreal is 6-2-1 in the past nine matchups – 4-1-0 in Buffalo.
The Sabres defeated Toronto 2-1 in a shootout Wednesday, with Evander Kane tying it with 4:29 left in the third period. That snapped Buffalo’s scoreless streak that covered more than 107 minutes.
"It doesn’t seem like we’ve scored a goal in a long time," coach Dan Bylsma said. "To get the puck to pop out on Kaner’s stick there and to get that goal and to have to fight for it for 55 minutes is a big one for us."
Chad Johnson picked up his second win for the Sabres by making 23 saves and limiting the Maple Leafs to one goal on five attempts in the tiebreaker. Johnson has made one start against Montreal, stopping 18 shots in a 3-1 loss to the Islanders on Dec. 23.