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Canadiens Game Day: Paul Byron now listed as week-to-week

Canadiens Game Day: Paul Byron now listed as week-to-week
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Canadiens forward Paul Byron changes directions during NHL game against the New York Islanders at the Bell Centre in Montreal on Jan. 15, 2018. John Mahoney / Montreal Gazette

Canadiens Game Day is a new feature this season in which we will follow the Habs during every home game from the morning skate in Brossard through the post-game interviews at the Bell Centre, updating throughout the day with all the news, quotes, notes and opinion you’re looking for: Canadiens forward Paul Byron, who has missed the last four games with a lower-body injury, is now listed as week-to-week by the team and has been placed on the injured-reserve list. The Canadiens also announced at Thursday’s morning skate in Brossard that forward Joel Armia had an MRI on the knee he injured during Tuesday night’s 5-3 loss to the Rangers in New York and that they were still waiting for the results. The Canadiens called up forward Kenny Agostino from the AHL’s Laval Rocket on Wednesday and he will be in the lineup Thursday night at the Bell Centre against the Buffalo Sabres (7:30 p.m., TSN2, RDS, TSN 690 Radio). Agostino, who had 4-6-10 totals in 12 games with the Rocket, was at left wing on the third line during Thursday’s morning skate with Jesperi Kotkaniemi at centre and Artturi Lehkonen on the right wing. Agostino was called up ahead of Nikita Scherbak, who is pointless and minus-1 in four games with the Rocket since being sent to Laval on a conditioning stint. Scherbak has yet to play a game with the Canadiens this season. The Canadiens blew a 3-1 second-period lead against the Rangers Tuesday night. “Obviously left a bit of a bitter taste in our mouth after that New York game,” the Canadiens’ Brendan Gallagher told reporters in Brossard after the morning skate. “We felt like we let one slip away. It’s on us now to move on and respond the right way. I think we understand what went wrong. We understand how we have to play … we’ve done it enough in here this year. It’s just a matter of us going out and executing it. It’s going to be a tough game. We’re playing a team that’s playing good hockey this year.” The Sabres beat the Canadiens 4-3 in their first meeting this season on Oct. 25 in Buffalo. “It’s going to be a tough game,” Gallagher said. “We’re playing a team that’s playing good hockey this year. They’ve already beat us once, obviously, so we’d like to answer for that as well and just come out with a strong effort.”

Here’s how the Canadiens’ lines and defence pairings looked at the morning skate: Tatar – Danault – Gallagher Drouin – Domi – Shaw Agostino – Kotkaniemi – Lehkonen Deslauriers – Peca – Hudon Benn – Petry Alzner – Reilly Ouellet – Mete Juulsen – Schlemko Carey Price will start in goal for the Canadiens. He has a 5-4-2 record with a 2.81 goals-against average and a .901 save percentage. Price has lost his last two games and three of his last four.

Bell Centre getting ready for tonight’s game between #Habs and Sabres (7:30 pm, TSN2, RDS, TSN 690 Radio) #HabsIO pic.twitter.com/koPXkVYDJN

The 26-year-old Agostino won the AHL scoring championship with the Chicago Wolves during the 2016-17 season when he posted 24-59-83 totals in 65 games. The 6-foot, 2-202-pounder, was selected by the Pittsburgh Penguins in the fifth round (140th overall) of the 2010 NHL Draft. In 22 career NHL games with the Calgary Flames, St. Louis Blues and Boston Bruins, Agostiono has 2-4-6 totals. The Canadiens signed Agostino as a free agent on July 1 after he posted 16-37-53 totals last season in 64 games with the AHL’s Providence Bruins and had one assist in five games with the NHL Bruins. Agostino signed a one-year, two-way contract with the Canadiens that pays him US$700,000 in the NHL and US$275,000 in the AHL. After Thursday’s morning skate, Agostino said the system the Rocket plays is similar to the Canadiens. “I feel comfortable with the system here,” he told reporters in Brossard. “It’s similar to what we’re playing down in Laval. Obviously, it’s not like it’s my first NHL game, so I’m excited. “I’ve just tried to take momentum from training camp into Laval and kind of have the same approach down there,” Agostino added. “Just take it one day at a time and try to get better every day, really.” Agostino was rotated in on the second power-play unit during Thursday’s morning skate. “It’s something I’m comfortable with, for sure,” he said. “Obviously, I’ve played a lot of power play in the AHL, I’ve played power play in the NHL with other teams. So I feel comfortable in that role and, obviously, it’s fun playing on the power play.”

Heading into Thursday night’s game, the Canadiens (8-5-2) ranked 17th in the NHL in offence, scoring an average of 3.07 goals per game, and 15th in defence, allowing an average of 3.00. They ranked 25th on the power play (15.3 per cent), seventh in penalty-killing (83.3 per cent) and 30th in faceoffs (45.6 per cent). The Canadiens, coming off Tuesday night’s 5-3 loss to the Rangers, have not lost back-to-back games this season. Heading into the game, Max Domi was leading the Canadiens in scoring with 9-7-16 totals, followed by Tomas Tatar (5-8-13), Brendan Gallagher (9-3-12), Jeff Petry (1-11-12) and Jonathan Drouin (4-6-10). Domi has scored in each of the last four games, matching his season total of nine goals in 82 games last season with the Arizona Coyotes.

Heading into the game, the Sabres (7-6-2) ranked 22nd in the NHL in offence, scoring an average of 2.87 goals per game, and 14th in defence, allowing an average of 2.93. They ranked 17th on the power play (19.6 per cent), 20th in penalty-killing (77.8 per cent) and 23rd in faceoffs (48.9 per cent). Heading into the game, Jack Eichel was leading the Sabres in scoring with 4-13-17 totals, followed by Jeff Skinner (9-7-16), Jason Pominville (8-6-14), Connor Sheary (5-3-8) and Kyle Okposo (4-4-8). Linus Ullmark will start in goal for the Sabres against the Canadiens. He has a 3-0-1 record with a 2.00 goals-against average and a .934 save percentage. The Sabres haven’t played since Sunday, when they lost 3-1 to the Rangers in New York.
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