National Hockey League
Sabres-Canadiens Preview
National Hockey League

Sabres-Canadiens Preview

Updated Mar. 4, 2020 7:07 p.m. ET

The Montreal Canadiens have at least regained their edge on home ice, though it's hardly been an advantage in recent meetings with the Buffalo Sabres.

Fresh off a promising start to their homestand, the Canadiens attempt to break that trend when the Atlantic Division rivals face off Thursday night.

After having its fading playoff hopes all but dashed by an 0-3-1 road trip, Montreal (31-30-6) opened a four-game stay at Bell Centre with Tuesday's 4-3 overtime win over Western Conference contender Dallas to move to 6-0-1 in its last seven at home.

Success has been surprisingly harder to achieve against the Sabres, who've left Montreal victorious in 10 of their last 13 visits. Buffalo has taken five of the last six overall matchups as well, including a 6-4 home win Feb. 12 that came nine days after a 4-2 victory at Bell Centre.


Buffalo (27-32-9) did have a four-game point streak halted with Tuesday's 4-2 loss to the New York Rangers, though coach Dan Bylsma was pleased with his young team's effort. After falling behind 3-0 early in the second period, the Sabres recorded a 19-4 shot advantage in the third.

"I thought we lost our energy a little bit with the second and the third goal and there was a lull in the game for us," Bylsma said. "Then we probably played our hardest and most energized 32 minutes of hockey there for the remainder of the game and had every opportunity to come back and tie that one up."

The Sabres were able to overcome a two-goal deficit in Toronto the previous night, getting third-period goals from Jack Eichel and Evander Kane before winning 4-3 in a shootout.

Eichel has three goals and two assists over a four-game point streak and Johan Larsson scored his third goal in four games Tuesday. Neither's recent production comes close to that of Montreal's Alex Galchenyuk, however.

Galchenyuk recorded his third two-goal game in his last four after scoring in overtime against Dallas, giving him nine in his past seven contests. The 2012 No. 3 overall pick also scored twice on the power play in last month's loss in Buffalo.

''What we saw earlier in the season, he's not the same player,'' coach Michel Therrien said. ''He's playing with a lot more confidence. In the past, he had nice two- or three-game stretches. This last month, he's been able to maintain a high standard of play.''

Galchenyuk's rise also has been sorely needed. Of Montreal's top eight goal scorers, three (Brendan Gallagher, Lars Eller, David Desharnais) are injured and two (Dale Weise, Tomas Fleischmann) were traded to Chicago on Feb. 26.

Montreal still has a healthy Andrei Markov, who's compiled seven points in the season series and had a goal and four assists in a 7-2 rout at Buffalo on Oct. 23.

The Sabres scored three times on eight shots in 21:28 against Ben Scrivens in the most recent matchup, but the journeyman is coming off a solid 30-save effort against Dallas.

Buffalo's Robin Lehner struggled against the Rangers, allowing three goals on 14 shots before being pulled 6:05 into the second. He had posted a 1.75 goals-against average over his nine prior starts and had 33 saves in the Feb. 3 victory at Montreal.


Get more from National Hockey League Follow your favorites to get information about games, news and more