Canadiens vs. Sabres 

Canadiens vs. Sabres

Winners of nine of their last 10, the Canadiens will be looking to further secure their playoff position tonight when they visit the Buffalo Sabres. The Lightning, Thrashers and Maple Leafs continue to battle with Montreal for one of the two final playoff berths, as New Jersey clinched its postseason appearance Tuesday night. Bob Gainey’s troops, who beat the Senators 3-2 Monday night at the Bell Centre, remain alone in seventh place with a two point lead over the Lightning and need just three points to clinch their spot in the playoffs.

The Sabres, currently in fourth place in the East, can mathematically still catch the Senators for the Northeast Division crown, as they sit eight points back with four games left to play. Idle since beating Ottawa 6-2 Saturday night, Lindy Ruff’s squad is just one win away from tying the franchise record of 49 set back in 1974-75.

Tonight marks the seventh of eight meetings between the Sabres and Canadiens this season. Five of the previous six contests have resulted in 3-2 finals, three of which have been won by Montreal. Buffalo has taken two games in overtime and topped the Canadiens 3-1 back on Nov. 25.

Defense gets offensive: With the return to NHL action following the Olympics, the Canadiens’ defensemen have shown more offense than ever. Sheldon Souray (16 points), Andrei Markov (11 points), Mathieu Dandenault (9 points) and Craig Rivet (8 points) are among the top 50 blueliners in the league since the schedule resumed on Feb. 28. In earning an assist on Richard Zednik’s goal Monday, Dandenault became the fifth Canadiens defenseman to notch at least 20 points this season. Montreal’s blue line hasn’t had this much offensive success since 1982-83 when Larry Robinson, Gilbert Delorme, Robert Picard, Rick Green and Craig Ludwig all notched 20 points that season. In 2005-06, the Flyers are the only Eastern Conference team whose defensemen have had equal success, while the defense corps of the Flames, Kings and Canucks each count five players with at least 20 points.

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