Habs shoot for longest win streak in three years, host Sabres

The first-place Montreal Canadiens will take aim at their longest winning streak in three years as they play host to the lowly Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday night.

Montreal has recorded victories in five straight games, giving the Habs a division-leading 42 points. That has the surprising Canadiens one point in front of Boston for Northeast bragging rights and also 18 points ahead of the last-place Sabres.

The Canadiens have matched their best winning streak of the season, but another victory on Tuesday would give the storied franchise its first 6-0 stretch since March 6-16, 2010.

Buffalo, meanwhile, has lost six of its last seven games (1-3-3) since a three-game winning streak from Feb. 26-March 2. However, the Sabres have fared well when playing at Montreal over the past few seasons, winning eight of their past 11 trips to the Bell Centre.

The Sabres have claimed three of four and nine of 11 overall in this series. The teams have met twice this season, with Montreal recording a 6-1 home win on Feb. 2 and the Sabres responding with a 5-4 shootout victory in Buffalo five days later.

Montreal recorded its most recent win Saturday in New Jersey. Tomas Plekanec's tip-in tally early in the third period proved to be the game-winner, as the Habs held off the Devils, 2-1, at Prudential Center.

Colby Armstrong also lit the lamp, while Carey Price posted 32 saves to help the surprising Canadiens improve to 19-5-4 this season after finishing last in the Eastern Conference in 2011-12.

"It's nice to see guys contributing," Price remarked. "Everybody is doing their job correctly and we're reaping the benefits right now."

Montreal played Saturday without winger Michael Ryder, who is day-to-day with a lower body injury. Ryder has two goals and seven assists in eight games for the Canadiens since coming over in a trade from Dallas last month.

Buffalo was dealt a 5-3 loss Sunday in Washington, D.C. Jason Chimera and Marcus Johansson scored 43 seconds apart in the second period, as the Capitals posted a 5-3 victory over the visiting Sabres.

Cody Hodgson had two goals for Buffalo and Ryan Miller was beaten five times on 25 shots.

Sabres forward Patrick Kaleta was eligible to return from a five-suspension on Sunday, but was a healthy scratch. Kaleta served the ban for delivering an illegal hit to Brad Richards of the New York Rangers earlier this month.

The Canadiens are 9-3-2 as the host this season, while Buffalo is 5-9-2 on the road.