The Buffalo Sabres have been outscored nearly three to one on the road since mid-December as they’ve consistently struggled away from home.
They haven’t had nearly as much trouble when visiting the Montreal Canadiens lately.
Buffalo seeks its fifth straight victory in Montreal when the teams return from the All-Star break Tuesday night.
The Sabres (20-24-5) were outscored 51-18 during a 12-game road losing streak that started with an 8-3 loss to Pittsburgh on Dec. 17 – a slide they snapped with a 2-1 shootout victory over New Jersey last Tuesday.
Buffalo scored fewer than three goals in each game of the skid following the loss to the Penguins. The Sabres weren’t any better offensively against the Devils, managing a season low-tying 14 shots, but Ryan Miller made 27 saves to snap his nine-game road slide.
Jordan Leopold scored in regulation before All-Star Jason Pominville and Nathan Gerbe had goals in the shootout.
”The past few weeks have been tough and challenging and we capped off a long, long road trip with a win,” Leopold said. “It was not a perfect game. We got outshot and outchanced but in the end we got a couple of big saves from Ryan (Miller).”
Tuesday’s contest ends a seven-game road stretch for Buffalo.
”This could have been a tough break if you walked into the break with even a shootout loss. This picks your spirits up and creates hopes,” coach Lindy Ruff said. “It’s the first time in a while the guys have felt good.”
Buffalo is 9-15-0 on the road, but two of the wins have come in Montreal.
Miller, 7-3-0 with a 1.69 goals-against average in his last 10 starts versus the Canadiens, made 40 saves in a 3-1 victory at the Bell Centre on Oct. 18. The Sabres scored twice in the third period to tie the game and won 3-2 in a shootout at Montreal on Nov. 14.
Buffalo has won five straight meetings overall, the last four coming on the road, but the Canadiens have gone 4-2-1 in their last seven home contests.
Montreal (19-21-9) entered the break riding high after a 7-2 win over Western Conference-leading Detroit on Wednesday, its second straight victory.
David Desharnais had two goals and an assist while Rene Bourque, Max Pacioretty and Erik Cole each added a goal and an assist.
All-Star Carey Price made 26 saves to win his second start in a row after a personal four-game skid. The Canadiens are 11th in the Eastern Conference, eight points out of the final playoff spot.
”It’s definitely nice to go into the break on a high note and maybe dwell on it for a couple of days because we haven’t a whole lot of good to dwell on this year,” Price said. ”I think we can sit on that for a little while, but when we come back, we know that we’ve got to get back to work.”
It’s uncertain if Price will be in net after playing in the All-Star game Sunday, but he’s played well against the Sabres recently – though he doesn’t have a win to show for it.
Price has a 1.75 GAA in his last five starts versus Buffalo, but the Canadiens have totaled six goals while going 0-2-3 in those contests.