The Montreal Canadiens are providing few bargains on the ice of late, but Black Friday yielded one blockbuster item for the team’s fans — the return of goaltender Carey Price. Sidelined for the past three weeks due to a lower-body injury, Price will be back in net when the reeling Canadiens host the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday night.
Montreal needs any kind of boost to lift its sagging psyche, having dropped five games in a row (0-3-2) since notching a 2-1 overtime win over visiting Buffalo on Nov. 11. “Definitely was eager to get back this whole time and I didn’t expect it to be quite this long,” said Price, who missed 10 games. “But like I said, you just had to be sure because you don’t want to get hurt and be out for a longer period.” The Sabres halted a seven-game losing streak (0-5-2) with a 3-1 home victory over the Edmonton Oilers on Friday, coming within 20 seconds of winning via shutout. “It’s just nice to get a win and play a complete game,” said Buffalo forward Kyle Okposo, who had an empty-net tally. “That’s how we’ve got to play.”
TV: 7 p.m. ET, MSG-Buffalo, TVAS, Sportsnet (Montreal)
ABOUT THE SABRES (5-13-4): Center Jacob Josefson has scored in both games since missing 15 contests due to a lower-body injury, netting his first goal since Feb. 4 in Friday’s victory. Jack Eichel is coming alive after scoring once in a 12-game stretch, producing goals in back-to-back contests, but he has been held without a tally in 10 career games against the Canadiens. Buffalo was 0-for-3 with the man advantage against Edmonton and has whiffed on 13 power-play chances over the past five games.
ABOUT THE CANADIENS (8-12-3): Defenseman Shea Weber (lower body) sat out the past two games and missed Friday’s practice, leaving his status in question. “I don’t know because again I think we need to have the evaluation done on him again today and find out every morning what we all keep hope that he’s going to be feeling better and ready to go,” coach Claude Julien said. “But that’s not the case right now.” Julien juggled his top line at Friday’s practice, with Paul Byron taking the place of captain Max Pacioretty.
1. Montreal traded D Torrey Mitchell to the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday in exchange for a conditional fifth-round draft pick.
2. Buffalo has won two of its last eight versus Montreal, failing to score more than two regulation goals during that span.
3. The Canadiens sent D David Schlemko and G Charlie Lindgren to Laval of the American Hockey League.
PREDICTION: Canadiens 3, Sabres 2