For the second time in less than a week, the Buffalo Sabres traveled to the Bell Centre in Montreal and defeated the Canadiens 2-1. The Sabres pushed their winning streak to three games and are now two points out of the eighth place. The Montreal Canadiens are 6-2 in their last eight games with both losses coming at the hands of the Sabres.
At times during the opening period, the Sabres reverted to their poor defensive play with several turnovers, as they struggled to get the puck out of their zone. Ryan Miller was up to the task, keeping the Canadiens off the scoreboard with solid goal tending, and stopping the Canadien’s Michael Ryder on an exceptional left pad save as Ryder found himself in front of Miller.
Thomas Vanek had the best opportunity for the Sabres in the period when he found himself alone in front of the Canadien net minder, Carey Price with under a minute to go in the period. Vanek stick handled the puck in front of Price, but couldn’t shovel the puck past Price. The first period ended scoreless with the Canadiens out shooting the Sabres 13-5.
The second period started much the same way as the first with Montreal applying pressure and Ryan Miller continuing his strong play. As the second period progressed, the Sabres settled down defensively and applied some pressure of their own.
Just under halfway through the period, the Canadiens got into penalty trouble. At the 9:09 mark of the period, Michael Blunden shoved Cody Hodgson into the boards and was called for interference. 39 seconds later P.K. Subban sent a puck out of play in his own zone and went off delay of game.
With the two man advantage the Sabres capitalized on their opportunity. 37 seconds into the Subban penalty, Cody Hodgson found Christian Ehrhoff at the right point where he blasted a shot at Carey Price. Standing in his familiar spot on the power play, Thomas Vanek tipped the shot over the right shoulder of Carey Price to take the 1-0 lead.
The remainder of the period was evenly played with both teams having their fair share of scoring chances and both net minders coming up big. With under one minute left in the period Buffalo not only got one of their more important goals of the season, they got one of their prettier goals.
Buffalo pushed the puck up the ice where Ville Leino found it just inside the blue line, where he slid it across ice to Tyler Ennis. After recieving the pass, Ennis connected with Thomas Vanek who was streaking to the front of the net. Vanek worked his magic and slid a backhand past a helpless Carey Price for his 16th goal of the season and a 2-0 Sabre lead.
The Buffalo Sabres found themselves in a familiar situation to start the third period as of late. Holding on to a lead in the final stanza and grabbing a crucial two points was at task for the Sabres, and they didn’t disappoint. Montreal applied pressure for much of the period and they did manage to cut the lead in half at the 6:52 mark of the period.
With Marcus Foligno in the penalty box for tripping, Montreal’s Andrei Markov found Michael Ryder in front of Ryan Miller for the easy tap in to make it 2-1. That’s the closest the Canadiens would come as the Sabres escaped with the victory. Ryan Miller was brilliant making 38 saves and earning the victory.
Buffalo moves their record to 3-1 against the Canadiens this year with one game remaining. Both teams are off until Tuesday evening, where Montreal will travel to Pittsburgh for a showdown with the first place Penguins, and the Sabres will try to make it four in a row as they battle the Lightning at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.