The Canadiens took the lead early when rookie winger Sven Andrighetto blasted it over the left shoulder of Sabres’ goaltender Chad Johnson less than four minutes into the game. Andrighetto’s slap shot hit the bottom of the crossbar before rocketing into the net, giving the Habs a 1-0 before many fans were in their sets.
The Habs wouldn’t keep the lead for long, however, as David Legwand would tie the game just ten minutes later on a breakaway. Legwand received a pass from Sabres winger Nicolas Deslauriers, sped by the Canadiens defensemen, and tallied his fourth of the season by wristing the puck past Canadiens’ goalie Ben Scrivens.
The Sabres were able to take the lead before the end of the first when Evander Kane scored his 14th of the season with just 17.8 seconds remaining in the period. Ryan O’Reilly picked up an assist on the goal, registering his 46th point of the season. By registering his 46th point of the year, O’Reilly tied last year’s leading point scorer Tyler Ennis, reaching the total much sooner than Ennis did in 2014-15.
Buffalo came out flying in the second period, scoring two goals in 50 seconds to give them the 4-1 lead. Josh Gorges scored his second of the year, his first against his former team, roughly a minute into the period. Gorges’ initial shot went off of Sabres forward Jamie McGinn before returning to Gorges’ stick, who shot it past a mispositioned Scrivens. The Habs would then replace Scrivens with rookie goaltender Mike Condon, but this wouldn’t help, as Condon would let in the first shot he saw. Recent call up Phil Varone’s shot deflected off of Marcus Foligno and into the net, giving Foligno his second point of the game.
The Sabres’ three goal lead wouldn’t last, as Alex Galchenyuk scored his 13th of the season on the power play following an Evander Kane holding penalty. Just two minutes later, Sven Andrighetto would score his second of the game and sixth of the season, decreasing the Sabres lead to just one.
With just over two minutes remaining the the period, Marcus Foligno was taken down on a breakaway and awarded a penalty shot. Foligno would make it count, scoring a beautiful goal, his second of the game, to increase the Sabres lead back to two.
The crazy period continued when Alex Galchenyuk scored his second power play goal of the game following a too many men on the ice penalty by the Sabres. Andrei Markov’s cross ice pass would be blasted into the net by Galchenyuk, cutting the Sabres lead back down to one.
The third period settled down, and although they were under attack for the majority of the period, the Sabres were able to hold on for the victory. Evander Kane picked up his second of the game with an empty-netter in the final minute of the game, securing the 6-4 win for the Sabres.
Although they were outshot by the Canadiens, Buffalo played a better game than Montreal tonight. The Sabres outhit the Habs by a substantial margin, and also finished the game with more face-off wins, takeaways, and blocked shots than their opponent.
Marcus Foligno had one of his best games in recent memory, scoring two goals and one assist on the night, good for his first career three point game. Foligno also led the team in hits and takeaways, and his efforts earned him the first star of the game. Sabres’ defenseman Josh Gorges commented on Folignos’ game, saying that he’s a player that “does all the little things the right way,” and that it was “good to see him rewarded for his efforts.”
Chad Johnson played a decent game, stopping 26 of 30 Canadiens shots for a save percentage of .867 to pick up his 13th win of the season. Although he didn’t have a great second period, Johnson stopped all seven shots that came his way in the third, keeping the Sabres in front for the entirety of the period, and ultimately earning them the victory.
Buffalo’s victory against the Canadiens gives them a 2-1 lead in the season series against the Habs, a lead they will attempt to increase the next time the two teams face off on March 10th. The Sabres next game will be on Sunday afternoon, as the Colorado Avalanche travel to the First Niagara Center in a game that will see Mikhail Grigorenko return to Buffalo for the first time since he was sent to Colorado in the summer of 2015.