Thomas Vanek leads all NHL goal scorers with 24 goals; three of those have come while playing the Canadiens. Vanek had the only Sabres goal in the Canadiens season opener en route to a 2-1 shootout victory in Buffalo. Ales Kotalik and Drew Stafford each fooled Carey Price while Ryan Miller thwarted Saku Koivu and Robert Lang. During their second meeting of the season Vanek had both Sabres goals but Montreal managed to comeback from a 2-1 deficit and hang on for a 3-2 victory.
Saku Koivu won't be ready to return to action tonight but Carey Price seems to be eying a return on Sunday so do not be surprised if he is the back up for tonight’s game. Andrei Kostitsyn is listed as day to day and will not be in the line up, which is good news for Ben Maxwell who is slated to take his vacant roster spot. The elder Kostitsyn has a minor knee injury, which he suffered in Thursday night’s game against the Flyers.
Ryan Miller played last night in Buffalo and earned his 10th career shutout. Patrick Lalime was in net for the Sabres in their loss to the Canadiens in late November because Miller had played the night before. It will be interesting to see if the Sabres decide to use Miller two nights in a row this time.
Craig Rivet is out with an undisclosed injury, Tim Connolly has a broken rib and Paul Gaustad has an upper body injury and is day-to-day.
The executive summary: Goalie Carey Price said he felt about 90 per cent today after a practice that saw him on the ice longer than the Canadiens expected. Head coach Guy Carbonneau said Jaro Halak starts Saturday, and depending on how he does and feels, he could go again Sunday. No need to rush Price at this point.
Price quietly said his injury began in his left quad and moved down to his knee, so it's not groin or hip.
Andrei Kostitsyn saw a doctor today. No damage done from his knee-on-knee hit by the Flyers' Scott Hartnell last night, but Carbo hopes GM Bob Gainey has serious thoughts about discussing it with the league. Kostitsyn is day-to-day, but definitely out for Saturday's game vs. Buffalo.
Happy birthday to Robert Lang, 38 today and the Canadiens' leading scorer. He's proven to be much more than a consolation prize in the sorry Mats Sundin Sweepstakes.
Ben Maxwell is expected to stay up with the Christmas roster freeze, which kicks in today. Maxwell says it will be his first Christmas away from home, but he's happy, needless to say, to be in Montreal.
The Buffalo Sabres made their NHL debut in 1970-71. Pride surrounded the team even before it first stepped on to the ice when the Sabres were awarded the first pick in the 1970 NHL Draft. With the choice, the club selected future Hall of Famer Gilbert Perreault. Despite Perreault’s 38 goals and Calder Trophy win, the Sabres missed out on the playoffs.
The Canadiens and Sabres first met on October 15, 1970, in Buffalo, with the Canadiens recording a 3-0 victory.
Montreal and Buffalo, who has yet to win a Stanley Cup, have faced off seven times in the playoffs. The Canadiens emerged victorious in four of those series, in 1973 (first round, six games), 1990 (first round, six games), 1991 (first round, six games) and 1993 (second round, four games). The Sabres won three of the matchups, in 1975 (second round, six games), 1983 (first round, three games), and 1998 (second round, four games).
I love the trio Lats-Lapierre-Kosto, it will be a great 4th line!! We can bench Begin a little because he's gonna be UFA and will not come back next year. Lats and Lapierre always had good chemistry. Also, a Skost-Lang-Higgins line doesn't sound bad considering Skost and Higgins start playing like they are capable of.