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Montreal Canadiens vs. Buffalo Sabres
NHL: Wednesday, October 9, KeyBank Center, Buffalo, New York, 7:00 PM ET
Both rivals missed out on the playoffs last season, and they will be aiming a return to the top eight teams in the Eastern Conference. After winning the opening two games against the Pittsburgh Penguins and New Jersey Devils, the Buffalo Sabres fell short to Columbus Blue Jackets in overtime.
On the other hand, the Montreal Canadiens didn’t have luck in the opener against the Carolina Hurricanes as they lost in the shootout. However, the Canadiens responded against the arch-rivals Toronto Maple Leafs on the road and beat them in the shootout. The hosts are slight favorites in this one, and they were better in recent H2H duels, winning three of four meetings in the 2018-19 campaign.
Montreal came back from three goals down to top Toronto in the shootoutThe Montreal Canadiens were fortunate to get a point in their shootout loss against Carolina, but they followed that up facing their eternal rivals – the Toronto Maple Leafs. After opening the game with a 1-0 lead, Montreal conceded four goals and was down by three early in the third period. The Canadiens scored four goals in the space of ten minutes and took a 5-4 lead before Auston Matthews sent the game to overtime and later a shootout. Carey Price saved all three penalties from the Maple Leafs while Paul Byron sealed the victory for Montreal. Brendan Gallagher was the first star of the game with a goal and a couple of assists. He is only one of the players to watch in the game against Buffalo as he recorded team-high 33 goals last year (A19). Max Domi experienced a season of his career in 2018-19 as he led the Canadiens with 72 points (G28, A44) while Tomas Tatar had 58 points (G25, A33). Jonathan Drouin and Phillip Danault also played a vital part in the offense with 53 points apiece.
In 2018-19, Montreal had the 14th offense in the NHL that averaged 3.00 goals per contest, and they are facing Buffalo’s 24th defense that allowed 3.27 goals per game. The Canadiens were the 30th team when it comes to powerplay conversion (13.2%), while Buffalo was the 12th in penalty kill percentage (80.9%).
Carey Price will start at the goal for the Canadiens, and he was 35-24-6 as he faced 1952 shots in the 2018-19 and allowed 161 goals (2.49 per game) and recorded 1791 saves (.918 SV %) with four shutouts. He met the Sabres twice last year and won one game while lost one after overtime, allowing even 4.94 goals per contest with .829 SV %.
The Sabres fell short to Columbus in overtimeThe Buffalo Sabres scored even ten goals in the opening two wins over Pittsburgh and New Jersey, but they deserved to suffer a first defeat of the season to the Columbus Blue Jackets. The Sabres had just 18 shot attempts and scored three in opposite to Columbus’ 44. Although Linus Ullmark was excellent with 40 saves, he couldn’t stop Alexandre Texier’s game-winning goal in overtime. Jack Eichel didn’t record a single point in a 4-3 loss after collecting three in the first two games. He is looking to bounce back against Montreal following a fantastic last season, in which he had team-high 82 points (G28, A54). Sam Reinhart (G22, A43) and Jeff Skinner (G40, A23) are also the players to watch for this encounter with the Canadiens. They already combined for seven points after the opening three games of the season.
Buffalo had the 24th offense in the NHL in 2018-19 that averaged 2.70 goals per contest, and they are facing Montreal’s defense that allowed 2.88 goals per game. The Sabres were the 16th team when it comes to powerplay conversion (19.5%), while Montreal was the 13th in penalty kill percentage (80.9%).
Carter Hutton will start at the goal for the Sabres, and he was 18-25-5 as he faced 1541 shots in the 2018-19 and allowed 142 goals (3.00 per game) and recorded 1399 saves (.908 SV %) with zero shutouts. He met the Canadiens on four occasions last year and had three wins and a loss, allowing 3.23 goals per contest with .893 SV %.
- 22-8 in their last 30 games as a home favorite
- 3-7 in their last ten road games
- 8-24 in their last 32 Wednesday games
- 1-4 in their last five games following a win
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
Buffalo is playing very well at home recently as they recorded five consecutive victories while Montreal’s away form is far from being great. The Sabres were a better side in H2H duels recently, and Montreal’s goaltender Carey Price had a lot of problems against this opponent last year. The biggest reason I am backing the hosts to edge the visitors is that Price allowed even ten goals in two meetings with Buffalo in the 2018-19 campaign.
He already conceded nine goals in two games this season, and given that he had the worst save percentage against the Sabres last year, I am going with Buffalo to get a win here. Jack Eichel failed to record a point in a loss to Columbus, but I am backing him to return to his best in this one. He recorded six points in four meetings with Montreal last season and was more efficient only against Ottawa (eight points).
Prediction: Buffalo Sabres (-122)
Full-Game Total Pick
Even though Buffalo’s defense is better at the moment, they are missing a couple of defenders in Zach Bogosian (hip) and Brandon Montour (hand). Montreal will have an excellent chance to score at least two goals here, which they did in eight of the previous nine duels at KeyBank Center. Three of four h2H meetings last year produced over 5.5 goals, which is set as the total for this encounter. Offenses of both teams are playing well right now, and I am backing Over.
Prediction: Over 5.5 (-110)