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Struggling Habs aim to rebound in Buffalo

(SportsNetwork.com) - The sliding Montreal Canadiens have struggled to put the puck in the net during their three-game losing streak, but the Habs hope to solve their scoring woes and return to the win column when they visit the Buffalo Sabres in Wednesday's battle at First Niagara Center.

The Canadiens began the season with an impressive 7-1-0 mark, but since then Montreal has gone 1-3-1 while dropping four of their last five contests. Montreal's latest setback came Tuesday evening against the visiting Chicago Blackhawks, who notched a 5-0 victory and dealt the Habs their second shutout defeat of the season, both of which have come over the past five tilts.

Montreal has been credited with five goals over the past five games and one of those tallies was for beating Calgary last Tuesday in a shootout. The Canadiens are currently ranked 27th in the league this season with an average of 2.15 goals per game.

The Habs defense hasn't been firing on all cylinders either, with Montreal yielding a total of 11 goals over its past two losses. The Canadiens were handed a 6-2 home defeat by Calgary on Sunday before getting routed by the Blackhawks.

The Canadiens sent 28 shots Corey Crawford's way on Tuesday, but the Montreal native stopped every one to record the shutout. Kris Versteeg scored a pair of goals to help the Blackhawks cruise to victory.

Carey Price was on the hook for all five goals on 32 shots for the Canadiens, who have lost three in a row for the first time since March 6-12 of last season.

"Despite the loss, I liked our intensity in the first half of the game," said Canadiens coach Michel Therrien. "Usually we show a lot more character, but it wasn't there tonight. We now have to focus and remember to play three periods together."

After getting swept in a brief homestand, the Canadiens are on the road for just one game before returning to Montreal for a four-game stay at the Bell Centre. The Habs are 4-2-1 as the visiting team this season.

Montreal hopes to get back on track against the Sabres, who have dropped the last five meetings in this series. The Habs also have claimed three straight in Western New York.

The Sabres, however, are coming off just their third win in 13 games after edging the visiting Detroit Red Wings in Sunday's shootout decision. Buffalo had lost three straight and seven of its previous eight games before notching the 3-2 win over the Wings.

Sunday's victory also was the first home win for the Sabres this season, improving Buffalo's record at First Niagara Center to 1-4-1. The Sabres are playing the second part of a four-game homestand tonight.

Zemgus Girgensons scored the winner in the shootout for Buffalo in the third round. Girgensons deked back to the forehand and lifted the puck into the left corner of the net. Michal Neuvirth preserved the win by not biting on Henrik Zetterberg's fake and making the stop.

Brian Flynn and Chris Stewart scored in regulation for the Sabres, while Neuvirth stopped 36 shots in the win.

Although he leads the Sabres with 32 shots on net this season, Stewart's tally was his first of the campaign.

"That one felt good," Stewart said. "I've had ample opportunities around the net, some golden chances this year. I've been a little bit snake bitten. To get that one, hopefully tides will turn."

Buffalo will try to record consecutive wins for the first time this season. The Sabres last registered back-to-back victories during a three-game winning streak from Feb. 25-28.

Neuvirth will get the start for Buffalo tonight and he boasts a 5-3-0 record and 2.24 goals against average in his career versus the Habs. Montreal backup Dustin Tokarski, who is expected to give Price a rest tonight, has never faced the Sabres.