The Montreal Canadiens blew a two goal lead over the Buffalo Sabres, and with the Toronto Maple Leafs doing them a favor by beating the Boston Bruins, still had a chance to get two big points in overtime.
That didn't happen, so they were off to a shootout where they held a 2-0 edge. The Sabres again battled back, and finally got the win in round 10 to claim a 3-2 victory.
The Canadiens at least salvaged a point, and are now tied in points with Boston. The Bruins maintain the Northeast Division lead, having a game in hand. The Sabres, in the meantime, now sit two points out of a playoff spot.
With the games left to play slowly counting down, this was one of those games where that extra point will come into play when the final standings are posted.
"We were back on our heels the second half of the game," said Habs captain Brian Gionta. "We gotta do a better job of closing teams out, when we have a chance. We need to find our consistency."
The Canadiens were dominant in the first period, out-shooting the Sabres 18-7 through twenty minutes. It should be noted that at one point it was a 17-4 edge. P.K. Subban pointed out that the Canadiens were drifting from the game plan, when interviewed on Versus after the period ended. Unfortunately the drift continued the rest of the night.
Against some teams, you can get away with that. But when you are playing a hot Sabres team, and a coach in Lindy Ruff who may be one of the best in adapting midway in a game, it's not going to happen.
"It's not about (not having a) killer instinct," said Canadiens' coach Jacques Martin. "It's about keeping the pace up. You gotta be consistent and focused away from the puck."
It also may have helped the Sabres that Jhonas Enroth played a solid first period, and carried it the rest of the night. The recent Sabres call-up made 32 saves on the night.
While the Canadiens broke down, their goaltender didn't. Carey Price, with a little help from his posts, bailed out his teammates on several occasions, especially on turnovers (14 on the night) literally right in front of him. Price's glove save of Jason Pominville, in overtime, may have been one of the best glove stops of the season.
From the blueline, a unit who's number two guy, in terms of experience on the Canadiens, is Subban (29:22) did a reasonable job under the circumstances. It seemed a lack of support from the forwards was a contribution to the team's downfall. Brendon Nash had a respectable debut, blocking four shots in just under 12 minutes TOI.
Martin continued to juggle most of his forward lines in an effort to find the equation that produces some offense. Suffice to say, the absence of Mike Cammalleri again shows it could be a long ride to the playoffs without him. Even longer if the ones who should also be producing do not begin to show up. I won't name names, but when you are expected to be a top-six forward, but don't go until the seventh or eighth round of a shootout...
The Canadiens are expected to have a morning practice Wednesday, before heading off to Edmonton for their three-game Western Canada road trip.
The voice of the team that earned the extra point at Die By The Blade
|04:54 MTL||Max Pacioretty, 10 (PP) (Tomas Plekanec, 27 Roman Hamrlik, 21) (BUF: 55 3 29 44 1 MTL: 44 21 14 31 68 67)|
|06:28 MTL||Benoit Pouliot, 13 (David Desharnais, 7 James Wisniewski, 32) (BUF: 21 44 1 24 57 63 MTL: 20 57 31 58 53 76)|
|17:48 BUF||Drew Stafford, 24 (PP) (Thomas Vanek, 27 Tim Connolly, 17) (BUF: 19 3 29 26 21 1 MTL: 32 14 20 45 31)|
|06:08 BUF||Jason Pominville, 13 (Jochen Hecht, 14 Nathan Gerbe, 10) (BUF: 55 29 44 42 1 57 MTL: 44 11 32 20 46 31)|
|00:00 BUF||Jochen Hecht, 10 (BUF: 1 MTL: 31)|