A sputtering offense has forced the Buffalo Sabres to play from behind quite a lot recently. Success, though, has been limited at best.
They’ll try to avoid their season-high fourth loss in a row on Friday night when the Montreal Canadiens visit HSBC Arena.
The Sabres (6-10-1) have just two overtime wins over their last eight games and have not held a lead in regulation for 487 minutes, 35 seconds since a 4-2 win in Florida on Oct. 26. Buffalo also has struggled to score for much of that stretch, getting just five goals in their last five games and converting just two of its 24 power-play chances.
Jochen Hecht and Derek Roy scored in the Sabres’ 3-2 loss to Ottawa on Thursday. Roy—sixth on Buffalo with 21 goals last season—moved into the team lead with his sixth this season after scoring on a 5-on-3 in the third period.
“We made some mistakes - obviously, they did also, but I think our mistakes were a lot bigger,” Roy said after scoring his first goal since Oct. 20 at Montreal. “They generated a lot of momentum on the power play and they made some great plays out there.
“You’ve got to give them credit and I think you’ve got to live and learn, and we’re going to learn from this.”
Ryan Miller made 31 saves but lost for the fifth time in six starts.
Center Tim Connolly missed his fourth straight game with a strained abdominal muscle. He leads Buffalo with 11 assists in 13 games after concussions limited him to two games last season.
The Sabres will be trying to bounce back against the Canadiens, who have won five of the last six meetings including the first two this season, both in Montreal. Canadiens goalie Cristobal Huet made 29 saves in Montreal’s 2-0 win on Nov. 5 in the last meeting.
The Canadiens (10-4-3) have won three of their last four, including Tuesday’s 4-3 overtime win in Toronto. Rookie Carey Price made 37 saves, helping Montreal stay in the game despite being outshot 40-25.
Price is 4-1-1 with a 2.44 goals-against average in six starts, while Huet is 6-3-2 with a 2.07 GAA in 11 starts.
“Pricey made some huge saves, both our goalies have been huge for us all year,” said defenseman Mike Komisarek, who scored the winner on a breakaway in overtime.
Alexei Kovalev, who leads the team with nine goals and 16 points, Andrei Kostitsyn and Andrei Markov also scored for Montreal, which is closing out a four-game road trip. Markov’s goal came on the power play, but the Canadiens, who lead the NHL with a 29.6 power-play percentage, have just two goals in 10 chances with the man advantage over the last four games.
However, they have been strong on the penalty kill, allowing just two power-play goals in 18 chances over their last five games.
“Penalty killing always starts with your goaltender,” forward Tom Kostopoulos said. “They’ve been unbelievable, Huet and Price, they’ve been great. So that’s what our penalty killing all comes down to.”