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Sabres at Canadiens: Game Preview

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Sabres and Canadiens look to get back on the right foot

NHL: Montreal Canadiens at Buffalo Sabres Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

Game #17

Buffalo Sabres (5-9-2) vs. Montreal Canadiens (7-9-1)

Puck drop: 7:00 p.m. EST | Bell Centre | Montreal, Quebec

TV: MSG

Radio: WGR 550

SB Nation Canadiens blog: Eyes on the Prize

What to Watch

1. Defensive struggles continue

Robin Lehner has been solid in net but has continued to receive little support on the backend. There is no doubt that Buffalo will improve when their defense is finally healthy but no one can predict when that will happen.

Until told otherwise, we keep our eyes pinned to Buffalo’s strange blueline.

2. Kane stays red-hot

Evander Kane continues to build on his contract year with another assist on Friday night. Kane has pushed his season total to 16 points (9 goals, 7 assists) in 16 games.

Another red-hot Sabres forward is Ryan O’Reilly. After struggling out of the gate, O’Reilly has tallied 11 points (5 goals, 6 assists) in his last 11 games.

3. Beaulieu returns to Montreal

For the first time in his National Hockey League career, Nathan Beaulieu comes into the Bell Centre as a visiting hockey player.

Beaulieu was drafted by Montreal in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft and spent the first five years with the franchise.

After 225 games with one team, you have to assume there will be some feels in the Bell Centre tonight.

Know Your Opponent

1. Early Season Struggles

Montreal started off on the wrong foot – a seven game-losing streak will do that to you. Bad hockey coupled with tough injuries, it makes sense why the Canadiens find themselves close to the bottom of the Eastern Conference.

2. Return to the lineup

After missing the Canadiens’ last game against the Minnesota Wild on Thursday night, Jonathan Drouin (upper-body injury) appears to be a game-time decision for tonight’s game. Defenseman Shea Weber (lower-body injury) also appears to be a game-time decision.

3. No Price, No Problem?

Star goaltender Carey Price was recently placed on the injured reserve with a lower-body injury, making way for the call-up of Zachary Fucale. Price had struggled through 11 appearances this season, with a 3-7-0 record, 3.77 goals against and a .877 save percentage.

Since Price has been out of the lineup, the Canadiens have won three of four games.

Tonight, the Sabres are expected to face Charlie Lindgren – who boasts a 2-1-0 record with a 1.35 goals allowed and a .961 save percentage.

Projected Lines

9 Evander Kane - 15 Jack Eichel - 29 Jason Pominville

67 Benoit Pouliot - 90 Ryan O’Reilly - 21 Kyle Okposo

25 Seth Griffith - 23 Sam Reinhart - 13 Nick Baptiste

28 Zemgus Girgensons - 22 Johan Larsson - 17 Jordan Nolan

6 Marco Scandella - 41 Justin Falk

82 Nathan Beaulieu - 93 Victor Antipin

19 Jake McCabe - 27 Taylor Fedun

Starting Goaltender: 40 Robin Lehner