The Buffalo Sabres head into Saturday's game at Montreal (2 p.m., MSG, CBC) full of confidence from multiple sources.
Their most recent winning streak stands at exactly one, but that won was a huge 7-4 win at Boston on Thursday in which the Sabres overcame a two-goal deficit and easily handled the Northeast Division leaders. Thomas Vanek posted his second hat trick of the season – and second five-point game – in the win.
Winning only one game out of five might not sound like much of a boost, but the Sabres will head into Quebec trying to extend that streak against a team they've gone 8-0-1 against in their last nine meetings.
If the Sabres are going to win their seventh straight game in Montreal, they'll have to continue getting production from their top line. While second-tier scoring would be nice – and will be necessary as the season progresses and the stars prove they're human – Vanek, Jason Pominville (five goals, seven assists) and Cody Hodgson (four goals, two assists) are doing enough to shoulder the load for the time being.
"Pucks are going in for me," Vanek said. "There's going to be stretches where nothing goes. So you like it right now, but you know it's going to head the other way."
That chemistry began to spark after Hodgson's acquisition last spring from Vancouver. But the trio has especially been hot in this abbreviated season. The three have accounted for 15 of Buffalo's 23 goals so far, with Tyler Ennis the only other player to score more than one.
"For some reason, I liked him right off the bat," Vanek said of Hodgson. "He can play both sides, dish it left and dish it right. He holds the puck, he's got good speed and there's something right there all the time."
The Canadiens enter the game 4-2-0 and one point ahead of Buffalo in the standings with a game in hand. Defenseman Andrei Markov has four goals and eight points to lead the Habs in both categories. Corey Price has a 4-1-0 record with a 1.98 GAA to lead the way in goal. Defenseman P.K. Subban, who's been out due to a contract dispute, will make his debut Saturday.
Two of the worst teams on the draw in the NHL will face off Saturday. Buffalo is last with a 2.1 percent faceoff percentage, and the Canadiens aren't far behind at 46.8 percent.Tags: Buffalo, Buffalo Sabres, Hockey, NHL