The Buffalo Sabres excellent road play last season helped them earn the Eastern Conference’s top seed. Their record away from HSBC Arena is keeping them at the bottom of the Northeast Division in 2007-08.
The Sabres can set a season high with their fourth straight win, but must snap a three-game road losing streak when they conclude a home-and-home series with the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday night.
Buffalo (9-10-1) still is trying to bounce back from a disappointing start. The Sabres went an NHL-best 25-12-4 on the road in 2006-07 en route to winning the Presidents Trophy, but have a 2-6-1 road mark this season. Buffalo also is tied with Los Angeles and Tampa Bay for the fewest road wins in the league.
Despite Buffalo’s road woes, it’s still just two points behind fourth-place Toronto in the Northeast. The Sabres will try to avoid losing four straight in regulation in a single season on the road for the first time since Jan. 6-20, 2004.
Sabres center Tim Connolly, though, is enthusiastic about the team’s recent turnaround at home in which they’ve oustscored the opposition 12-5.
“We can’t take it for granted,” he said. “We’ve played solid the last few games but we still have a ways to go.”
The Sabres opened the home-and-home set with a 4-2 win over the Canadiens (12-7-3) on Friday night to even the season series at 2-2. Both of Buffalo’s wins against Montreal have been at home and it now heads to Bell Centre, where it is has lost four straight.
Vanek, who signed a seven-year, $50 million contract after a career-high 43 goals, scored for the first time since Nov. 2 against Florida. The third-year forward has four goals and eight points in his last seven games versus Montreal.
Miller, meanwhile, has been outstanding during the Sabres’ current run, recording a 1.67 goals-against average. He’s also made eight straight starts, giving up two or less goals in six of those games.
Miller is 10-3-2 with a 2.29 GAA in 15 starts against the Canadiens.
Only Chris Higgins and Tomas Plekanec found the back of the net for Montreal on Friday. The Canadiens have scored two goals or less seven times in their last 10 games.
Montreal, which has alternated wins and losses the past eight games, remains six points behind Northeast-leading Ottawa, which was idle Friday.
Cristobal Huet, the Canadiens’ starting goaltender, was rested Friday and rookie Carey Price ended up having a personal three-game winning streak snapped. Huet, who is 6-4-3 with a 2.67 GAA in 14 games against Buffalo, is expected to be back in net Saturday.