NHL Hockey

Canadiens take aim at struggling Sabres, cling to playoff spot

With two weeks remaining in the NHL's regular season, the surprising Montreal Canadiens barely cling to a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, but a late-season run of home games may help out.

Perhaps beating the Buffalo Sabres would help to get to the playoffs for the first time in two years, too.

Montreal (39-28-7) hosts Buffalo on Saturday. The match will be the final one in the four-game season series, and due to a scheduling quirk, the first since the two clubs met the last time during Thanksgiving week.

Beating the struggling Sabres would be a start for the Canadiens, who hang on to the final wild card by just one point over the Columbus Blue Jackets, 85-84.

Montreal trails Carolina for the first wild card by two points. However, the upstart Hurricanes do have a game in hand to work with.

The Philadelphia Flyers (80 points) and Florida Panthers (78) are standings lurkers, but it would be a tall order, requiring perhaps a total collapse from one or two of the three teams above them and for the Flyers or Panthers to run out, for either squad to secure a wild card.

Montreal hosts four more games at Bell Center, and the Canadiens, who are 21-12-4 at home, will face the quixotic Panthers, Presidents' Trophy-winning Tampa Bay Lightning and rival Toronto Maple Leafs to round out their home schedule.

Goaltender Carey Price gave the Canadiens the lift they needed to hop back in playing position on Thursday, twirling his 44th career shutout by saving 28 shots in a 4-0 win over the New York Islanders in Montreal.

"He's always the No. 1 guy that can turn the momentum of the game and give the boys confidence. Even when we break down a little bit he's always there, and that's huge," forward Max Domi said of Price, who is now two shutouts behind Ken Dryden for third all-time in franchise history.

Montreal is 0-1-2 against the Sabres, having faced them back when Buffalo was playing some of the best hockey in the league.

However, the second half of the season has been a complete disaster for the Buffalo as expectations have come up short, fueling speculation of coaching or personnel changes.

The Sabres (31-33-9) have won just three times in their last 17 games (3-12-2) and dropped a 4-2 decision on Wednesday at home to Toronto.

Buffalo mustered just 22 shots against Maple Leafs backup goalie Garret Sparks, getting tallies from Casey Mittelstadt and Alexander Nylander.

Meanwhile, the Sabres allowed 45 shots by Toronto against their goalie Carter Hutton, including 38 over the first two periods.

"We knew the magnitude of this game, the rivalry," said Buffalo coach Phil Housley, whose club has not won consecutive games since early December. "We turned the puck over and then it came right back after us and we were chasing -- chasing a lot, killing a cycle. Then when we did have the puck, we didn't manage it very well."

--Field Level Media

Updated March 22, 2019

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Teams Score Time
Appalachian State 34 F
North Carolina 31
Ball State 16 12:21 4th
NC State 27
Carolina   Sun 4:05pm
Carolina 2 F
Washington 3
Teams Score Time
Boston College 30 F
Rutgers 16
California 28 F
Ole Miss 20
Elon 7 F
Wake Forest 49
LSU 66 F
Vanderbilt 38
Michigan 14 F
Wisconsin 35
Southern Mississippi 7 F
Alabama 49
Tennessee 3 F
Florida 34
Western Michigan 33 F
Syracuse 52
Appalachian State 34 F
North Carolina 31
Auburn 28 F
Texas A&M 20
Louisville 24 F
Florida State 35
Miami (OH) 5 F
Ohio State 76
SMU 41 F
TCU 38
UCF 34 F
Pittsburgh 35
Washington 45 F
BYU 19
Central Michigan 12 F
Miami 17
Ball State 16 12:21 4th
NC State 27
Old Dominion 17 12:27 4th
Virginia 14
Oregon 21 05:52 4th
Stanford 6
Charlotte 3 06:15 3rd
Clemson 45
Oklahoma State 20 10:44 3rd
Texas 21
Notre Dame 10 00:00 Half
Georgia 7
Colorado   10:00pm
Arizona State  
UCLA   10:30pm
Washington State  
Teams Score Time
Philadelphia 6 8th
Cleveland 4
American League
Toronto 2 F
New York 7
Boston 3 10th
Tampa Bay 3
Chicago 5 F
Detroit 3
Seattle 3 7th
Baltimore 4
Kansas City 5 9th
Minnesota 5
Los Angeles 6 7th
Houston 4
Texas 0 2nd
Oakland 7
National League
St. Louis 9 F
Chicago 8
New York 2 F
Cincinnati 3
Washington 4 9th
Miami 4
Pittsburgh 1 7th
Milwaukee 8
San Francisco 1 8th
Atlanta 8
Arizona 1 4th
San Diego 0
Colorado 1 2nd
Los Angeles 0
Teams Score Time
Atlanta   Sun 1:00pm
Baltimore   Sun 1:00pm
Kansas City  
Cincinnati   Sun 1:00pm
Denver   Sun 1:00pm
Green Bay  
Detroit   Sun 1:00pm
Miami   Sun 1:00pm
New York   Sun 1:00pm
New England  
Oakland   Sun 1:00pm
Carolina   Sun 4:05pm
New York   Sun 4:05pm
Tampa Bay  
Houston   Sun 4:25pm
Los Angeles  
New Orleans   Sun 4:25pm
Pittsburgh   Sun 4:25pm
San Francisco  
Los Angeles   Sun 8:20pm
Chicago   Mon 8:15pm
Teams Score Time
Pittsburgh 1 F
Columbus 3
Colorado 3 F
Minnesota 4
Carolina 2 F
Washington 3
New York 3 F
New Jersey 4
New York 1 F
Philadelphia 4
Toronto 3 F
Buffalo 5
Montreal 4 12:58 3rd
Ottawa 0
Florida 2 07:33 2nd
Dallas 0
Tampa Bay 2 00:00 2nd
Nashville 2
Vegas 2 00:00 2nd
San Jose 1
Boston 1 09:26 2nd
Chicago 1
Anaheim 0 00:00 1st
Arizona 1
Vancouver 1 10:25 1st
Los Angeles 1
Pos # Name Start Pos
1 2 Brad Keselowski 1
2 18 Kyle Busch 4
3 19 Martin Truex Jr 8
4 11 Denny Hamlin 6
5 6 Ryan Newman 19
6 9 Chase Elliott 3
7 20 Erik Jones 16
8 4 Kevin Harvick 2
9 17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr 18
Pos # Name Start Pos
1 20 Christopher Bell 4
2 22 Austin Cindric 1
3 00 Cole Custer 12
4 7 Justin Allgaier 2
5 98 Chase Briscoe 5
6 18 Harrison Burton 6
7 9 Noah Gragson 8
8 8 Zane Smith 15
9 1 Michael Annett 10
Pos # Name Start Pos
1 16 Austin Hill 7
2 45 Ross Chastain 2
3 51 Christian Eckes 1
4 2 Sheldon Creed 6
5 4 Todd Gilliland 3
6 30 Brennan Poole 18
7 24 Brett Moffitt 4
8 99 Ben Rhodes 13
9 18 Harrison Burton 9