National Hockey League
Preview
Buffalo at Montreal
When: 7:00 PM ET, Wednesday, February 3, 2016
Where: Bell Centre, Montreal, Quebec

The Montreal Canadiens hope to put an end to their downward spiral when they begin a four-game homestand Wednesday against the Atlantic Division-rival Buffalo Sabres. Montreal began the season in tremendous fashion, winning its first nine contests and earning points in 15 of its first 17 (13-2-2), but multiple injuries to reigning Hart and Vezina Trophy winner Carey Price have contributed to the team's troubles over the last two months.

The Canadiens fell to 5-19-1 since a six-game point streak from Nov. 20-Dec. 1 with Tuesday's 4-2 setback at Philadelphia. Despite its current struggles, Montreal owns a 12-10-2 record at home as it prepares to begin its stretch at Bell Centre against two of the league's weaker teams in Buffalo and Edmonton. The Sabres, who reside in the basement of the Atlantic, are returning from the All-Star break to wrap up a three-game road trip during which they split the first two contests. Montreal dominated the opener of the five-game season series Oct. 23, when Brendan Gallagher and Dale Weise each scored twice in a 7-2 rout at Buffalo.

TV: 7 p.m. ET, MSG (Buffalo), Sportsnet, RDS (Montreal)

ABOUT THE SABRES (20-26-4): Jack Eichel has picked it up offensively of late, registering three goals and four assists over his last five contests - including three two-point performances. Two of those efforts came last week, earning him the NHL's Third Star of the Week honors. Buffalo is expected to have Sam Reinhart (upper body) and Nicolas Deslauriers (foot) back in the lineup Wednesday, but still will be without Tyler Ennis (upper body).

ABOUT THE CANADIENS (24-23-4): While Price's return from a lower-body injury is questionable at best, Tom Gilbert was back in the lineup Tuesday for the first time since Dec. 22. The defenseman, who was sidelined with a lower-body ailment, recorded a game-high six blocked shots in 15:25 of ice time. Lucas Lessio
made his Montreal debut against Philadelphia and finished with a plus-1 rating in his first NHL game since Feb. 28, 2015 while with Arizona.

OVERTIME

1. Eichel has recorded 16 goals and 34 points, ranking him second in goals and tied for third in assists among NHL rookies.

2. Montreal D P.K. Subban is tied with Ottawa's Erik Karlsson for the league lead in power-play assists with 17.

3. Buffalo C Ryan O'Reilly leads the team with 17 goals but is mired in a nine-game drought.

PREDICTION: Canadiens 3, Sabres 1
Stats and Records
Team Comparison
  W/L Strk Home Away Day Night Div
Buffalo 20-26-1-3 W1 9-15-1-1 11-11-0-2 3-2-0-1 17-24-1-2 6-10-0-1
Montreal 24-22-3-1 L2 12-10-2-0 12-12-1-1 1-0-0-0 23-22-3-1 11-4-1-0
Last Meeting
Buffalo Montreal
Date Away Home Shots Saves PP Shots Saves PP
10/23/15 MON 7 BUF 2 36 19 1-4 26 34 2-3
Player Stats
Previous Matchup
Total Points Player  
Buffalo C. Franson 2
Montreal A. Markov 5
Goals Player  
Buffalo M. Moulson 1
Montreal B. Gallagher 2
Assists Player  
Buffalo C. Franson 2
Montreal A. Markov 4
Saves Player  
Buffalo C. Johnson 19
Montreal M. Condon 34
Season
Total Points Player  
Buffalo R. O'Reilly 44
Montreal M. Pacioretty 38
Goals Player  
Buffalo J. Eichel 18
Montreal M. Pacioretty 20
Assists Player  
Buffalo R. O'Reilly 26
Montreal P. Subban 33
Saves Player  
Buffalo C. Johnson 834
Montreal M. Condon 747
Quickchart Matchup
Buffalo Off vs  Montreal Def
2.26 GF
2.66 GA
29.3 Shots
27.4 Shots
32 PP
25 PK
Montreal Off vs  Buffalo Def
2.66 GF
2.66 GA
31.8 Shots
30.6 Shots
30 PP
24 PK