Tonight, at 7:00pm, the suddenly hot Buffalo Sabres will be facing off against the Montreal Canadiens. Buffalo, 3-1-1 in their last 5 and coming off a 5-4 shootout win against the Toronto Maple Leafs will be looking to jump up in the standings. As it stands, Buffalo is outside the playoff picture in the 12th spot with 28 points, but only one point behind the 11th (New York Islanders) and 10th place (Washington Capitals) teams. The 8th spot is currently held down by the Carolina Hurricanes with 32 points, while the 9th place New York Rangers also have 32 points. At this juncture, the Buffalo Sabres would need a win streak as well as some losing streaks from the teams above them in the standings. A win against the Montreal Canadiens tonight, who they beat in overtime this past week, would be an important first step.
After that loss to the Buffalo Sabres, the Montreal Canadiens went on to beat the only team that had defeated them in regulation over the past 19 games: the New York Islanders. On the strength of a 3-goal outburst in the third period, the Montreal Canadiens finally beat the New York Islanders for the first time this season. Benefiting from P.K. Subban‘s hot streak, 7 pts in his last 5 games and the resurgent play of Max Pacioretty with 3 points in his last two games, the Montreal Canadiens are aiming to widen the gap between them and the Boston Bruins this evening, who are facing off against the Toronto Maple Leafs. A win would also pull them to within 1 points of the Pittsburgh Penguins for the conference lead while having played 1 fewer game. A solid 2 point win tonight would be a good way to head into 2 difficult and important games next week: the Pittsburgh Penguins on Tuesday and the Boston Bruins on Wednesday.
On the Buffalo Sabres side of the ice, the players to watch tonight are Steve Ott who burned the Montreal Canadiens for 2 goals last Tuesday and who has 3 points in his last 2 games. Similarly, Tyler Ennis is riding a hot streak with 5 points in his last 3 games. The Buffalo Sabres also expect to have the services of Thomas Vanek back. Their leading scorer with 31 points in 27 games left the game last Tuesday after taking a shot from the point to the hip. No word yet on the starting goalies for either side – though if I had to venture a guess, I’d say Jhonas Enroth, who is 2-0-0, 1.48, .955 in his last 2 games, versus Carey Price, who is 2-0-1, 1.98, .926 in his last 3 games.
Some fun facts about tonight’s matchup:
- Tonight marks Travis Moen‘s 600th game in the NHL.
- Tomas Plekanec is 1 goal away from a tie for 36th place in the Montreal Canadiens all-time goal scoring list with Brian Savage, while Carey Price‘s next win will tie him with Jose Theodore for 8th place in most wins by a goaltender in franchise history.
- P.K Subban is 2 points away from 100 points career points in the NHL.
- Thomas Vanek is 3 goals away from 246 career NHL goals, which would tie him with Mike Foligno for 6th in franchise history.