BUFFALO NY - JANUARY 18: Cody McCormick #8 and Ryan Miller #30 of the Buffalo Sabres defend against David Desharnais #58 of the Montreal Canadiens at HSBC Arena on January 18 2011 in Buffalo New York. (Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images)
Not only did they lose that precious extra point, but they also may have lost some key players along the way.
Mike Cammalleri was the first to go, when he was pushed from behind and slid into the boards. Early prognosis from the medical wizards at TSN is a separated shoulder. If true, the Canadiens winger could be out for at least two weeks. Not so bad given the Habs play just once next week with the All-Star festivities coming up.
There was question during the first intermission on TSN as to whether or not Mike Weber's crosscheck on Cammalleri was a warrants further discipline. Former Sabres captain Mike Peca suggested that it could, but that decision will be left in the hands of Mr. Campbell.
Next was Max Pacioretty, who took a James Wisniewski blast to the chest area. Pacioretty was seen leaving HSBullCrap Arena on a stretcher with an IV attached. Speculation is that it could be a rib injury, but medical officials want to make sure that no organs were punctured.
Jeff Halpern also took a shot to the head, and despite returning to the bench, saw next to no ice time. A shot at the foot to P.K. Subban had Habs fans hearts even more a flutter, but fortunately the rookie rearguard returned to the ice.
With the Habs dropping like flies, the remaining skaters gave an A+ effort and Carey Price again played a strong game. When two top-six forwards and one of your best faceoff men go down early, and already without two top-four rearguards for the season, you can usually right the game off.
The shorthanded visitors had nine players log 18 minutes or more TOI and blocked 18 shots. Price had to be sharp on nearly all of the 37 saves that he made on the night, but Ryan Miller was equally as effective in the Buffalo goal, making 29 saves of his own.
The downside was a combination of lack of discipline and some below par officiating. The Canadiens made their share of mistakes, submitting to the Sabres thuggish style and taking a few too many retaliation calls. Scott Gomez's foolish high stick would prove to be the turning point late in the third period, giving the Sabres a 4 o 3 advantage in the overtime frame that led to Jason Pominville's winning goal.
But there were several moments where the referees swallowed their whistles, and in fairness to the Sabres fans, it was happening on both sides. Normally I turn the blind eye as an excuse for an outcome to a game, but lately, and for most of this season, the lack of officiating has been a problem across the NHL.
Unfortunately for the Habs, they were on the receiving end more than their opponents tonight. Tyler Myers clearly should have received a roughing call when he was shoving Lars Eller, while he was on the ground, but nothing was called.
And why is that? Because Sabres coach Lindy Ruff makes his opinions very vocal to the officials, while Jacques Martin does not. Many will say, "Well when Ruff does that, he loses any more power plays." Not so, that "system" still works for many coaches, and it is likely the only reasons why Ruff has kept his job in Buffalo for as long as he has.
On the lighter side, how many people were yelling "Smurf fight (at least in their heads)" when Scott Gomez and Nathan Gerbe went at it?
The Canadiens head home to face the Ottawa Senators on Friday, and we should get some more official medical reports from the club within the next 24 to 48 hours.
More from the Sabres side of the sword at Die By The Blade
|05:19 MTL||David Desharnais, 2 (PP) (Roman Hamrlik, 16 James Wisniewski, 26) (MTL: 44 52 14 20 31 58 BUF: 25 30 28 27 57)|
|11:21 BUF||Tyler Ennis, 11 (PP) (Thomas Vanek, 19 Tim Connolly, 13) (MTL: 44 52 14 20 31 BUF: 19 3 30 29 26 63)|
|01:09 BUF||Jason Pominville, 9 (PP) (Thomas Vanek, 20 Tyler Ennis, 12) (MTL: 44 21 6 31 BUF: 19 30 29 26 63)|