The Buffalo Sabres hope to have gained some momentum from an impressive victory in their last outing when they visit the Montreal Canadiens for Saturday's battle at the Bell Centre.
The Sabres had lost four straight games heading into Thursday's contest in Boston, but Buffalo halted the slide with a 7-4 rout of the Bruins. It marked the first time Boston had lost in regulation this season.
Thomas Vanek was the star for Buffalo, tallying a hat trick and two assists to lead the way in the blowout at TD Garden. It was Vanek's second five-point game of the season after he posted two goals and three assists against Philadelphia to kick off Buffalo's campaign on Jan. 20. He is the first player since Pittsburgh's Mario Lemieux in 1992-93 to record five or more points twice in his team's first seven games of the season.
The Austrian winger has recorded a point in every game he has played this season, notching six goals and nine assists over his six contests while missing one game with a lower body injury. Vanek's 15 points are currently tops in the NHL.
"Pucks are going in right now for me," Vanek said. "There's going to be stretches where nothing goes my way. So you like it right now, but you know it's going to head the other way."
Cody Hodgson added a goal and two assists for the Sabres, who fell behind 4-3 early in the third period before scoring four unanswered goals to finish the game. Hodgson centered a line with Vanek and Jason Pominville, who is second on the team with 12 points this season.
"It was pretty easy. Just get open and wait for the puck," Hodgson said of Buffalo's top unit. "They battle hard on every puck and we played well together.
Alex Sulzer, Tyler Ennis and Jason Pominville also lit the lamp, while Ryan Miller made 38 saves.
Buffalo has won eight of its last nine games against the Canadiens and the Habs have dropped five straight as the host.
While Buffalo snapped a four-game slide this week, the Canadiens had a four- game winning streak come to an abrupt halt Wednesday evening in Ottawa. Daniel Alfredsson, Mika Zibanejad and Chris Phillips scored for the Senators during a span of less than four minutes in the second period as Ottawa breezed to a 5-1 triumph.
Tomas Plekanec recorded the lone goal for Montreal, which allowed Ottawa to score twice on five power-play chances.
"The penalties broke our rhythm," Montreal coach Michel Therrien said. "We lost a lot of fights in front of the net and that didn't make it easy on Peter [Budaj]."
Budaj was tagged for all five goals on 27 shots in his first start of the season for Montreal. Regular No. 1 netminder Carey Price is 4-1-0 on the year and will be back in net against Buffalo.
The Habs are 3-1-0 as the host this season and are beginning a three-game homestand on Saturday.