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Canadiens vs Sabres Game Recap: Habs give two crucial points away

Needing every point they can get from now until the end of the season, the Canadiens show little urgency in 6-4 loss.

Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

The Montreal Canadiens took a three-game win streak into their Friday-night matchup with the Buffalo Sabres, looking to extend it to four against one of the league's worst teams, and improve their slim playoff hopes.

At the end of the night, the Habs were even further from reaching that goal, and things are beginning to get desperate.

The night started off well, when Sven Andrighetto, dressing for the fifth-consecutive game, got the Habs out to an early lead with a rocket shot off a Max Pacioretty pass.

From there, the Sabres took the game over. Or, perhaps more accurately, the Canadiens gave it away.

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David Legwand tied the game after some poor execution of an offensive pinch at the Sabres blue line gave him an open path up the ice, which he used to skate to the slot and beat Ben Scrivens with an in-tight shot.

With just seconds left in the opening period, and the Canadiens lined up along the wall for a patented boards clearance, Markov's up-ice pass was intercepted by Ryan O'Reilly, and Marcus Foligno had ample room to make a pass to Evander Kane for the go-ahead goal.

Even Josh Gorges got in on the goal-scoring, left to pounce on his own rebound lying just at the edge of the crease 88 seconds into the second.

At that point Scrivens was relieved in favour of Mike Condon.  The move didn't have the desired effect, as Foligno made it 4-1 less than a minute later after setting up right in front of the crease.

Alex Galchenyuk took advantage of a power-play opportunity to make it a closer contest with a one-timer on his off-wing.

Two minutes later, a Sabres defensive breakdown gave Andrighetto his own section of the offensive zone, and a swimming Chad Johnson left him an open net to fire his second goal of the game, and sixth of his 22-game season, to get Montreal within a goal.

That would project to 22 goals over an 82-game campaign. Andrighetto leads the team with a five-on-five goals-per-sixty-minutes pace of 1.4.

Foligno was awarded a penalty shot after Galchenyuk pestered him on a breakaway attempt, and used it to score his second of the game late in the middle frame

Galchenyuk got redemption for the play, and kept the second-goal streak going with another Steven Stamkosian off-wing one-timer on the power play to once again reduce the deficit to a single goal.

The Habs came out firing in the third trying to get the tying goal, but despite their best efforts, and several near misses, they couldn't pull even.

With about a minute left in regulation, a linesman got in the way of defensive zone clearance by the Sabres, and deflected the puck to Kane, who scored his second of the game into an empty net to give the Sabres a 6-4 edge.

While P.K. Subban was adamant the play should have been blown dead, and ejected because of it, and fans were vociferously upset by the unfortunate bounce, the fact of the matter is that the Canadiens had put themselves into the position of having to score five goals just to escape regulation with a tie, and needing to score six goals to win a game when their playoff lives are hanging in the balance.

The slim playoff hopes are even slimmer, and allowing teams to score at will is not going to be the answer for a team that needs to win twice as many games as it loses to maybe sneak into the post-season as the final seed in the Eastern Conference.


  • The three-game win streak all but killed any hope (if that's the right word) of a bottom-five position for the draft lottery, so it's now playoffs or bust for the Montreal Canadiens. Their performance against one of the teams that will probably feature in that group doesn't instill much confidence. The team needs to be better, and it all starts in the defensive zone.
  • If the team is going to fail in its quest for a post-season berth, at the very least it would be nice to see the young players play well down the stretch and take some confidence into next season.  The offensive output from Galchenyuk and Andrighetto is a good sign for the future of the team, and at the very least could make the final 26 games entertaining.

Montreal now travels west to take on an Arizona Coyotes team in a similar situation, though the Pacific Division club currently has a better chance of making the playoffs than the Canadiens currently do, sitting three points out of eighth with a game in hand.  It should be a hard-fought, intense battle on Monday night.