Montreal Canadiens vs. Buffalo Sabres Pick & Prediction FEBRUARY 21st 2024

With their fathers and mentors in tow, the Buffalo Sabres kick off a two-game road trip when they visit the Montreal Canadiens on Wednesday.

Many Sabres players have their fathers joining them on the trip, while others have grandfathers or other father figures.

“They have every reason … to be extremely proud,” Buffalo coach Don Granato said of their guests. “That in itself can be energizing (for the players), and it should be energizing. These guys have accomplished a lot in their careers and lives in a very, very short time and they’re playing obviously at the highest level in the world.

“You see the fathers, the mentors, the grandfathers, and they’re very proud of that and they should be. And I think that’s good energy.”

The Sabres are coming off a 4-3 loss to the Anaheim Ducks on Monday, a contest in which they finished with a 37-14 shot advantage and held a pair of one-goal leads. Ultimately, mistakes did them in.

“We were just sloppy with the puck,” Sabres center Tage Thompson said, after he had a third-period goal robbed by Anaheim’s John Gibson. “Obviously, I had a bad turnover that cost us and all the goals they got were just gifts that we gave them.

“They didn’t really have to work for anything. We just gave them free chances, free opportunities, and you can’t do that.”

A Buffalo offense that was dominant last year has struggled this season. Through the first half of 2023-24, it was a rough go at both ends of the ice. Over the last six-plus weeks, the team has tightened up its defensive game. And while there have been spurts of offensive production, there hasn’t been enough consistency.

“I think we’ve been playing better defensively overall, but that’s kind of the way it’s going this year,” Sabres captain Kyle Okposo said. “When you’re not scoring, you have to make sure you’re doing all of the other little things correctly. And (Monday), that’s what bit us — just those little details of the game that weren’t good enough.”

Sabres winger Jordan Greenway has found his way onto the scoresheet of late, with five points (three goals, two assists) in his past four games.

The Canadiens are looking to get back on track after losses to the New York Rangers and Washington Capitals. Montreal has dropped four of its past five games, while getting outscored 21-11 in those losses.

The team emphasized coverage in the slot and the front of the net at practice Monday, after allowing three even-strength goals against Washington that came from just a few feet away from the net.

“We have to be more alert,” Canadiens coach Martin St. Louis said. “There isn’t anything in the system that the guys don’t understand. They have to be alert.”

Opposing teams have had to be on alert for Montreal’s top line of Nick Suzuki, Cole Caufield and Juraj Slafkovsky. Suzuki leads the team with 53 points (20 goals, 33 assists), followed by Caufield’s 45 points (19 goals, 26 assists). Slafkovsky is fifth with 30 points (12 goals, 18 assists).

Suzuki has 16 points (eight goals, eight assists) in a 10-game point streak, while Slafkovsky has six goals and six assists in an eight-game point streak.

–Field Level Media

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