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Canadiens vs. Sabres Top Six Minutes: Habs win season opener

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Brendan Gallagher scores twice in a 4-1 victory over the Sabres.

NHL: Montreal Canadiens at Buffalo Sabres Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports
For those new to the website, the Top Six Minutes are a continuation of the game thread, in which we discuss the game in an informal manner. Detailed recaps are available every morning following games.

Pre-game Thoughts

  • The Sabres have a couple of key players (Eichel and Okposo) out tonight, so the absence of Carey Price shouldn’t hurt the Habs as much.
  • There are five players making their Canadiens’ debut tonight: Shea Weber, Alex Radulov, Andrew Shaw, Artturi Lehkonen and Mikhail Sergachev, and they get to do it in... Buffalo.
  • It sounds like there are half as many Habs fans as Sabres fans during the pre-game ceremony. If Habs fans wanted to protest, they should start going to away games exclusively. That’d teach em...
  • LET’S DROP THE PUCK AND GET THIS SEASON UNDERWAY!

First Period

  • The Canadiens are dominating. Five shot attempts for, zero against in the first five minutes played.
  • Max Pacioretty almost scores the first goal of the season for the Habs for the third season in a row on a pass from Brendan Gallagher that just hops over his stick.
  • Powerplay time for the Habs. Josh Gorges takes the tripping penalty.
  • Time for Shea Weber to rain fire from the point.
  • The Habs are playing 1-3-1 on the powerplay and it looks... beautiful.
  • Give this powerplay time to gel and it will be good. This one doesn’t convert, but there’s hope for the future.
  • Brendan Gallagher scores the first goal of the season for his team on low blocker wrist shot from the slot as he entered the Sabres’ zone with speed. The shot was screened by Gorges.
  • Alex Galchenyuk with a turnover in front of his own net almost leads to a Sabres goal, but Jake McCabe fires it over the net.
  • Andrew Shaw draws a penalty after the whistle (on an icing call against the Habs no less), taking a cross-check to the face from Marcus Foligno.
  • Evander Kane steals the puck from Andrei Markov and flies in alone on Al Montoya who makes a save with his right shoulder, sending the puck into the stands.
  • Nathan Beaulieu and Mikhail Sergachev are on the second powerplay unit.
  • No powerplay goal, 0/2 so far on the night.
  • Al Montoya is starting to get some pressure. Two quick shots from the Sabres and a scramble in the crease, but Montoya keeps them off the board.
  • Shea Weber takes Johan Larsson down with a huge hit. It’s like he doesn’t have to think about it, he just slams people down. I can get used to this...

Second Period

  • Al Montoya is getting challenged, but is having a solid game. He makes a couple of saves in the first few minutes of the period.
  • Paul Byron is fast. He drives the puck into the Sabres zone and backhands the puck on Lehner before crashing into the end-boards. The rebound is left flat in front of Lehner for Torrey Mitchell to tap in to give the Habs a 2-0 lead 3:21 into the second period.
  • Brendan Gallagher leads a three-on-one and feeds Alex Galchenyuk with a perfect pass, but Robin Lehner is able to get in front of the puck.
  • Daniel Carr takes a high-sticking penalty giving the Sabres a chance to wake their fans up.
  • Arturri Lehkonen starts alongside Tomas Plekanec on the first powerplay unit. I like how much trust is being put in the young guys tonight.
  • The Sabres don’t score on the powerplay and the KeyBank Center is still asleep.
  • Nathan Beaulieu takes a roughing penalty to put the Sabres on the powerplay again. Rasmus Ristolainen blasts one from the point that rides up Torrey Mitchell’s stick and into his face, but he got up quickly to get surface repairs to his cheek in the dressing room.
  • Another successful penalty kill for the Habs led by Al Montoya.
  • Mikhail Sergachev blocks a shot up high on the chest and goes to the bench in a lot of pain. It looks close to the throat but it could have just been a stinger. I doubt very many shoot that hard in the OHL.
  • Alexei Emelin stick checks Evander Kane as he carries the puck to the net and guides him into the corner where Kane loses his balance and goes flying into the end-boards. Kane looks to be in a lot of pain and remains on the ice for about five minutes getting tended to by the trainer. Kane is helped off the ice, hunching over himself, probably done for the rest of the night.

Third Period

  • Shea Weber is sent off for cross-checking twenty seconds into the period for the Sabres third powerplay in a row. Matt Moulson makes it a 2-1 game twelve seconds into the powerplay after being found alone in front of the net by Sam Reinhart.
  • Apparently it doesn’t sound good for Evander Kane, who is being taken to the hospital on a stretcher.
  • The Habs have been pretty bad for the last ten minutes of play. The Sabres have doubled the Canadiens in shot attempts, 12-6, over a span of five minutes left in the second period to a few minutes into the third.
  • It’s the lulling effect of a game in Buffalo.
  • Montoya is keeping this a 2-1 game.
  • Artturi Lehkonen comes close to scoring his first NHL goal twice but is robbed both times by Robin Lehner.
  • Shea Weber takes a shot from the point the deflects off Brendan Gallagher to put the Habs up 3-1. Gallagher set up the play by winning the puck behind the Sabres’ net and playing the puck to the point before rushing to the front of the net and tipping it past Lehner.
  • Alexei Emelin’s clean hit on Johan Larsson makes Josh Gorges go after Torrey Mitchell who tries to avoid Gorges’ hit attempt, but falling to the ice takes a knee from Gorges right to the head. Alex Radulov is assessed a double-minor for roughing on the ensuing scrum, putting the Sabres on the powerplay once again.
  • The Habs kill it off, seeming to have shut down the Sabres after taking a two-goal lead.
  • Make it a three goal lead! Andrew Shaw’s shot from in close fools Robin Lehner as Daniel Carr wreaks havoc in the crease, and the Habs are up 4-1.
  • Buffalo challenges the goal.
  • “The call on the ice stands.”
  • The Sabres pull their goalie with under two minutes left. Max Pacioretty finds Brendan Gallagher with a centering pass but it bounces off his stick and misses the empty net.
  • The Habs take a penalty, with Alex Galchenyuk sent off for hooking Ryan O’Reilly.
  • Well, that’s it. The Habs win this one 4-1.
  • Andrew Shaw takes a major penalty for slew-footing after the final buzzer. He gets a match penalty, and could face supplemental discipline given his recent history.

EOTP 3 Stars

Third star: Maybe not “awesome,“ but Weber got a point to begin his Habs career.

Second star: That’s a fun amount of Gallaghers.

First star: It’s been a very long off-season, and it’s nice to get back in the swing of things with a win.

Habs Highlight of the Night:

Brendan Gallagher tips a Shea Weber point shot for his 2nd goal of the game