The Montreal Canadiens are clearly not giving up on the playoffs, at least the players aren't. Their GM might be looking to be a seller, given Friday afternoon's trade but the ones remaining are giving it their best shot.
Despite being outgunned on the Corsi/Fenwick side of things by the Sabres, the Canadiens took advantage of their opportunities and had a bit of luck along the way.
Even with the departure of their penalty kill shutdown man Hal Gill, the Habs foiled all three Buffalo Sabres power play chances in a 4-3 shootout win.
Max Pacioretty and David Desharnais were both successful in their shootout attempts on Ryan Miler, where the Sabres netminder thought he had initially stopped both attempts only to find the puck trickle behind him. Carey Price stopped Brad Boyes and Jason Pominville's attempts to pick up the win.
The Canadiens regulation scoring came from a trio of players that many fans and media practically want out of town. Tomas Kaberle, Scott Gomez and Chris Campoli each doubled their goal outputs in the 2011-12 NHL season, with their second goals of the season. Had Andrei Kostitsyn potted a goal, and he had his chances, the media would have dubbed it a trade showcase.
Montreal's victory drops the Sabres into the Eastern Conference cellar, while the Canadiens move to within six points of the eighth and final playoff slot.
Robyn Regehr put the Sabres on the board first at 4:16 on a snap shot that appeared to deflect off of Price and into the net.
Kaberle replied for the Canadiens at 11:26, sneaking in towards the crease and taking a perfect pass from Desharnais.
Tyler Myers gave the Sabres back the lead with his fifth goal of the season, after the Canadiens struggled to clear the zone, at 15:43.
Gomez popped his second goal in a month, on the power play at 19:46, blasting a slapshot past Miller from the top of the faceoff circle.
The Canadiens managed just four shots to the Sabres seven in the second period, but Campoli's wrist shot at 11:28 put them back in the lead.
The Sabres were 3-22-1 heading into the third period, but one of those wins came against Montreal back in November. Buffalo was certainly looking to earn a fourth come from behind win and made it close. With the Canadiens pressed down low, Tyler Ennis was left alone between the hash marks. He and was in the perfect location when a centering pass deflected off a skate and onto his stick at 11:55.
Montreal was held without a shot in overtime, thanks in part to a late tripping call on Max Pacioretty, while the Sabres had three chances at Price.
P.K. Subban played a solid game for the Canadiens, playing 28:48 and putting five shots on goal. He was the lone Canadiens player on the positive side of the plus/minus chart.
Randy Cunneyworth balanced out his player's ice time, with only Louis Leblanc (9:50) not reaching double digits.The Canadiens rookie is making a very strong case to stay for the duration of the season, and played a smart game with three shots on goal.
Tomas Plekanec was on the ice for 2:59 of the five minutes the Canadiens were shorthanded, including a 1:47 workout on the first penalty kill of the evening. The Montreal penalty killers limited their opponents to four shots on goal and no legitimate scoring chances.
The Canadiens head home to Montreal, where they host the New Jersey Devils on Sunday.
Three Stars: 1. David Desharnais 2. Tyler Myers 3. Robyn Regher.
Sabres thoughts from Die By The Blade