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Sabres Visit Surging Habs Looking to Snap Streak

Buffalo hopes to break a three-game skid against a suddenly surging Montreal team.

Buffalo Sabres v Montreal Canadiens Photo by Francois Lacasse/NHLI via Getty Images

Game 52

Buffalo Sabres (16-27-8) vs. Montreal Canadiens (11-33-7)

Puck Drop: 7:30 PM EST | Centre Bell | Montreal, QC

TV: MSG-B

Radio: WGR 550

SB Nation Canadiens Blog: Eyes on the Prize

Know Your Opponent

Montreal Canadiens

Record: (11-33-7)

Division Ranking: 8th in Atlantic Division

PP: 31st (12.7%)

PK: 30th (74.1%)

What to Watch

1. Previously Struggling, Now... Surging?

The Canadiens have no doubt had a rough season. Their record speaks for itself, and the standings do, too. However, their recent performance is a complete 180 from the rest of the season. Over the past few games, they’ve started to settle in with new head coach Martin St. Louis and are currently on a three-game winning streak. Their most recent win came on Monday, in a 5-1 victory over the Leafs.

It would be easy to look at a team like Montreal & consider them a weak opponent, but that would almost certainly be a mistake on the Sabres’ part. Obviously at this point in the season, this surge isn’t going to make a big difference in the Habs’ overall season record or turn them into a playoff contender, but it’s definitely something to watch re: St. Louis & how he can help turn the team around.

Conversely, the Sabres are now on a three-game losing streak.

2. Biro Time?

We could see Rochester Americans forward Brandon Biro make his NHL debut tonight. Biro, who has 36 points (9-27) in 39 games with the Amerks this season, was recalled to the big club earlier this week. He previously played four years of college hockey at Penn State (2016-2020) and captained the Nittany Lions in his senior year.

If he doesn’t make his debut on Wednesday, Biro will likely play at some point in this road trip. However, with Kyle Okposo missing from morning skate, it seems like he’ll play tonight.

3. Top-Line Power

The Habs’ top line of Cole Caufield, Nick Suzuki & Josh Anderson is the one to watch tonight. The trio has combined for 10 points in their last two games and 12 points in their last three games. Caufield & Anderson each have four points (2-2).

The Sabres’ top line (Jeff Skinner, Tage Thompson, Alex Tuch) has also seen recent success, of course. Over the last two games, the trio has combined for eight points. Extending that out a bit further and looking back to the last five games, their production is more than double (20 points).

Projected Lineups

Buffalo Sabres

Forwards

Jeff Skinner - Tage Thompson - Alex Tuch

Peyton Krebs - Casey Mittelstadt - Dylan Cozens

Rasmus Asplund - Mark Jankowski - Brandon Biro

Anders Bjork - Cody Eakin - John Hayden

Defense

Rasmus Dahlin - Henri Jokiharju

Mattias Samuelsson - Casey Fitzgerald

Jacob Bryson - Mark Pysyk

Robert Hagg - Will Butcher

Starting Goalie (projected): Dustin Tokarski

Montreal Canadiens

Forwards

Cole Caufield - Nick Suzuki - Josh Anderson

Mike Hoffman - Laurent Dauphin - Brendan Gallagher

Rem Pitlick - Jake Evans - Paul Byron

Michael Pezzetta - Ryan Poehling - Artturi Lehkonen

Defense

Alexander Romanov - Ben Chiarot

Brett Kulak - Jeff Petry

Kale Clague - Chris Wideman

Starting Goalie: Sam Montembeault