The Montreal Canadiens were victimized by a hot goaltender in their last game.
Another meeting with the struggling Buffalo Sabres may get the offense going again.
The Canadiens look to rebound from a recent defeat as they attempt to beat the Sabres for the second time in less than a week Thursday night.
Montreal (6-3-0) is scoring 3.0 goals per game, but the team has totaled that while splitting the last two. The Canadiens’ latest effort resulted in a 2-1 loss to Boston as 20 of their shots were saved by Tuukka Rask, who has a 1.96 goals-against average.
“For me, the important thing is that we’re getting quality chances,” coach Michel Therrien told the team’s official website. “It’s going to happen in the NHL where you’re facing a goalie that’s playing really well. It’s not a matter of will. I think we worked hard to create those chances.
“There are just nights the puck goes in and there are nights the goalie’s going to make the save.”
That certainly wasn’t the case against the Sabres (3-6-1) on Saturday, when Montreal pounded them 6-1.
— Chris Nichols (@Nichols_NHLPool) February 7, 2013
Despite the loss, Buffalo is 8-1-1 in the past 10 meetings with its Northeast Division rival, but much of that success is aided by stellar performances from Ryan Miller.
The 2009-10 Vezina Trophy winner surrendered four goals on 21 shots through two periods against the Canadiens last week before being pulled for Jhonas Enroth, who allowed two scores on 11 attempts.
Miller had been 6-0-1 with a 1.12 GAA and two shutouts over his previous seven starts against them.
The Sabres give up a league-high 3.7 goals per game – 4.3 during a 1-6-1 stretch.
Enroth didn’t help Tuesday, making 20 saves in a 4-3 loss at Ottawa as Buffalo’s slide reached three games.
He’s lost both of his starts with a 4.75 goals-against average, while Miller is 1-4-1 with a 3.67 GAA in his last six.
“We need better goaltending. There’s no secret to that,” coach Lindy Ruff said. “I think (Enroth) will admit that he has to have a couple of those. Now you have to look to bounce back. I tried to let him bounce back in the game and I thought the team answered the bell.
“Right now we’ve got to worry about winning a game, whatever that takes.”
It’ll likely take improvement from Miller, who should be back in net. He’s 3-0-1 with a 1.45 GAA and a shutout in the last four home meetings with Montreal.
Thomas Vanek leads the NHL with 19 points, but he’s looking to get back on the scoresheet after his season-opening eight-game scoring streak came to an end Tuesday.
The left wing found the net against Montreal last week, getting just his second goal over the past 22 games versus the Habs.
P.K. Subban is giving the Canadiens some added scoring punch in three games since returning to the team after signing a two-year, $5.75 million contract Jan. 28.
So far, the layoff doesn’t seem to be an issue since the defenseman has managed a point in each of his first three games.
Subban got his first goal Wednesday, and had an assist against Buffalo on Saturday in his season debut. However, that was just his third point – all assists – in 13 career meetings with the Sabres, and he has one in six road matchups.