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Sunday, March 16, 2014

Pregame Preview: Canadiens at Sabres (Game #69)

Habs vs Sabres 
Match Up:

The Canadiens (36-25-7) are in Buffalo Sunday to take on the Sabres (19-40-8) after an improbable come-from-behind victory against the Senators the night before. The game starts at 7:00 and airs on RDS and TSN-Habs.

This is the third of four meetings between the Habs and Sabres this season, Montreal has already claimed a pair of victories in the previous two matches. The last time these teams faced off, at the start of December, a 3-goal second period powered the Canadiens to a 3-2 win. Brandon Prust, Tomas Plekanec and Travis Moen each had two points in that game.

What to Watch:

PK Subban pitched in with 3 big late game assists Saturday night against the Sens, helping to erase Ottawa's 4-1 lead en route to a 5-4 OT Habs victory. The 28:55 of ice time Subban logged was his second highest of the season. The Canadiens power play still had some trouble finding its way on Saturday, the Habs were 1-for-7 with the man advantage, giving them just 2 power play goal in their last 6 games and a total of 28 opportunities.

The Sabres are a team in disarray, with 5 straight losses and only 5 goals for over that time, they've look like a team simply playing out the season and waiting for next year. With 18 goals and 36 points, Tyler Ennis leads the Sabres in scoring. With 4 points in his last 4 games, Ennis has factored in 80% of the Sabres goals in that span.

What's at Stake:

Despite playing without Carey Price for a stretch of 8 games, the Canadiens are still 4-4-1 since returning from the Olympic break and are stuck in a tight race with the Maple Leafs and Lightning for second through fourth place in the Atlantic division. The Sabres have been cellar dwellers for much of the season and are in the midst of a 5-game losing streak, which means the Habs can't afford not to take the two points that are up for grabs on Sunday.

Who's Out:

Carey Price returned to action on Saturday but Josh Gorges (hand) and Michael Bournival (concussion) are still missing.

The Sabres are missing trade deadline acquisition Chris Stewart (ankle surgery) as well as Zemgus Girgensons (lower body), Torrey Mitchell (lower body) and Alexander Sulzer (upper body). Tyler Myers (elbow) is questionable.

What Else:

The Canadiens scored a huge comeback victory over the Senators Saturday night with 3 goals in the final 3 and a half minutes to force overtime and an eventual 5-4 victory. It was just the third time this season the Habs won a game they were trailing at the start of the third period in 29 occasions.

Thomas Vanek returns to Buffalo to face the team that drafted him. Vanek played 598 games as a Sabre scoring 254 goals and 243 assists over 9 seasons.

The Question Mark:

How do you think Saturday's come from behind victory over the Senators will impact the rest of the season for the Habs?

Let us know what you think, leave a comment or send us a tweet by using the #MTLHockey hashtag on Twitter.

Be sure to tune into the Montreal Hockey Talk Pregame Show an hour before the puck drop and the Post Game Show 5 minutes after the final siren. Join the live conversation by using the #MTLHockey hashtag on Twitter.

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