Canadiens-Sabres Preview

The Associated Press

A visit from the Montreal Canadiens might be what the Buffalo Sabres need to end their current losing stretch.

The Sabres look to avoid a fourth consecutive defeat as they try for a seventh straight victory over the Canadiens on Friday night.

Despite a 2-0 first-period lead Thursday, Buffalo (24-27-6) allowed Philadelphia to score seven answered in a 7-2 road loss.

"This time of year, it's unacceptable to get a lead like that and blow it,'' said forward Jason Pominville, who has five goals in five games. "That's when you have to lock in and play better.''

The Sabres have been outscored 13-4 during a three-game skid that's followed a 5-0-1 stretch by a club fighting to stay out of the cellar in the Eastern Conference.

The Sabres, however, have a chance to regroup while trying to continue its recent success versus Montreal (23-25-10). Buffalo has allowed just seven goals during its six-game winning streak over the Canadiens, four of which have come in three meetings in 2011-12.

Though the teams' last five meetings have been played in Montreal, the Sabres avoided a third straight home loss to the Canadiens with a 2-1 overtime victory Jan. 18, 2011.

Paul Gaustad had a goal with two assists in Buffalo's 3-1 victory at Montreal on Jan. 31. The veteran forward also drew the ire of Montreal goaltender Carey Price in that contest.

"He's got a big mouth and he likes to run it, so what can we do?'' Price said. "You can't worry about what he's got to say because he doesn't do much out there.''

That could make for some interesting drama Friday night between a pair of teams on the outside of the playoff picture.

Losers of two straight following a four-game winning streak, the Canadiens are two points ahead of the lowly Sabres and three in front of last-place Carolina in the conference.

"We've lost two in a row and we're not where we could be,'' said winger Mathieu Darche, who scored his second goal in three games during Wednesday's 4-3 shootout loss to Boston. "I think the last two weeks we've played the way we should have all year, and if we would have done that I don't think we'd be in this situation.''

Max Pacioretty scored his team-leading 24th goal and Erik Cole added his 22nd to help the Canadiens rally to tie the game with two third period goals Wednesday.

"It's hard to say it's a good game when we don't come up with two points at this time of the year, when we're on the outside looking in,'' said Pacioretty, who has five goals and one assist over the last four games.

Pacioretty has two goals and two assists versus Buffalo this season. Cole, meanwhile, has a goal in three straight games overall but one in his last 10 against the Sabres.

Though Price has started every contest during the six-game skid against Buffalo, he's posted a 1.79 goals-against average during that span.

Buffalo's Ryan Miller, who allowed four goals on 17 shots Thursday, has yielded three during a four-game winning streak versus Montreal.

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