The Montreal Canadiens and Buffalo Sabres each played their second game in as many nights on Saturday. The Habs were hoping to add two more points after their regulation win over the Devils in New Jersey on Friday. Despite having the lead twice over the Sabres back on home ice, they managed to earn just a single point, losing to the Sabres in overtime. It was the Habs’ third overtime loss in Montreal this season.
The first period didn’t see much action until a wakeup midway through when Alexander Radulov, playing in his 200th NHL game, rushed through the offensive zone and set Max Pacioretty up beautifully at Robin Lehner’s doorstep; Lehner got a piece of it before Pacioretty got the rebound, but bounced the puck off the post. The shot came so close that it even fooled the goal-light operator. Alas, the score remained at 0-0.
With seconds dwindling on the first period, Radulov took a hooking penalty for lifting a stick on the backcheck, which would give Buffalo nearly two minutes on the power play to start the second period.
Two minutes after Buffalo failed to capitalize on their power play to start the second period, Artturi Lehkonen scored his 11th goal of the season, connecting on a gorgeous shot off a rebound from Paul Byron.
The Canadiens’ lead would last less than a minute, as it seemed everyone in the crowd around Carey’s net had their back turned to former Habs captain Brian Gionta, who made no mistake on a wide-open net to tie the game.
Montreal regained the lead precisely four minutes later when Jeff Petry lobbed a blast from the blue line that Phillip Danault tipped into Lehner’s net, to make the score 2-1.
Later in the second, Alexei Emelin committed to a hit near the boards on Matt Moulson. Moulson, who had the puck and was facing Emelin, turned his back as Emelin was forcing toward him. It wouldn’t be an Emelin penalty without controversy, but the boarding penalty resulted in just a two-minute minor that the Canadiens were able to kill off.
The rest of the period was uneventful until Andrew Shaw got a perfect feed from Alex Galchenyuk and shot it right on Lehner. Shaw broke his stick over his knee in frustration, his goal drought reaching nine games.
The third period saw Buffalo tie the game yet again on a Cody Franson seeing-eye shot right from the face-off circle.
Carey Price then activated hero mode with seconds left in the game, making one excellent pad save on Kyle Okposo and then an absolutely miraculous glove save on Rasmus Ristolainen. If not for Price, this game is without a doubt lost in regulation.
On to overtime. The Canadiens owned possession of the puck for the first minute and a half. Lehner got to cast his ballot for save-of-the-year candidate when he absolutely robbed Galchenyuk, flying over his crease to catch the puck in his glove and apparently seeing right through Evander Kane.
The game was over when Zach Bogosian took a slapshot that rang off Price’s post and in the net.
- All told, and despite the deflating feeling of losing on home ice, the Canadiens took three of a possible four points on the weekend, and now have 63 on the season.
- For all the emphasis on how many games the Habs have lost in regulation since their characteristic dominant start to the season, they have picked up a lot of overtime points along the way. Don’t forget their failure to do just this made all the difference in their spot in the standings last season.
Having played their 14th game in 25 nights on Saturday, the Habs will get a brief respite before they welcome the Calgary Flames into the Bell Centre on Tuesday.