By JEFF MEZYDLO STATS Senior Writer
Buffalo (12-15-4) at Montreal (20-5-5), 7:00 p.m. EDT
Montreal’s only blemish during its current seven-game points streak came at home to the Buffalo Sabres earlier this week.
The Canadians have a chance to avenge that loss as they host the Sabres for the second time in five nights Saturday.
Montreal (20-5-5) avenged its only regulation loss in the last 19 games with a 5-2 road win over the New York Islanders on Thursday. The Canadiens, who are 6-0-1 since that 6-3 loss to the Islanders on March 5, now have a chance to pay back Buffalo (12-15-4) after the Sabres left Montreal with a 3-2 overtime victory Tuesday.
“Obviously a run like this feels good but we know we have a lot of work to do in improving our game,” said Montreal forward Max Pacioretty who had two assists Thursday. “If we want to be successful we have to change a couple things in our game and get better at it and hopefully we can keep doing that.”
The Canadiens have a two-point lead over Boston in the Northeast Division and are on the heels of Eastern Conference-leading Pittsburgh. Montreal is in the midst of a 4-0-3 home stretch but has lost in a shootout and overtime to the Sabres since beating them 6-1 at the Bell Centre on Feb. 2.
Buffalo’s Steve Ott scored in regulation and 2:16 into overtime at Montreal on Tuesday. Ott had an assist and scored in the sixth round of Thursday’s 5-4 shootout home win over Toronto.
“He was the guy to go to,” Sabres interim coach Ron Rolston said. “He brings a lot of energy to the team and especially the grit he plays with on a consistent basis. He can be put out in all situations.”
Ott has three goals in two games against the Canadiens, who hope to halt Buffalo’s momentum by building on their latest victory.
Montreal trailed 2-1 on Long Island before scoring four straight goals, including three in the third period. Defenseman P.K. Subban had two goals and Michael Ryder scored his third for his 10th point in 10 games since being acquired from Dallas last month.
“This was a big win for us,” said Montreal’s Carey Price who made 25 saves. “We wanted to rebound after that last game. I don’t think we played particularity well in those first two periods, but we came out really strong in the third.
“We’re really comfortable in tight games when we come out in the third period. We have a group with an incredible will and work ethic that allows us to overcome tough situations.”
Price has a 2.29 goals-against average while winning five of six, but has yielded three goals in three of his last four against the Sabres.
Buffalo’s Thomas Vanek has three of his team-leading 14 goals versus Montreal this season, but could sit out a second straight game after he was struck by a shot in the right hip Tuesday against the Canadiens.
Four points out of the final playoff spot in the East, Buffalo is 6-5-3 since Rolston replaced the fired Lindy Ruff on Feb. 20.
Subban has six of his nine goals in the last 10 games, but one in 15 career contests against the Sabres.