A loud and passionate crowd filled Montreal’s Bell Centre, which cheered whenever the Habs initiated any sort of rush into the Sabres’ zone, and booed any time a Montreal player was hit hard by a Sabre. Both Buffalo and Montreal tested their opposing goaltenders throughout the first period, but Ryan Miller and Carey Price were absolutely stellar any time the puck came their way.
It wasn’t until nearly the midway point of the game when the first goal was scored. Tyler Myers fired a rocket of a shot from the point, which Nathan Gerbe deflected past Price as he skated in front of the Montreal net to earn his 12th of the season.
Montreal made things interesting towards the end of the second period as they applied pressure in the Buffalo zone. Miller found himself being assailed by shots, and at one point had to reach out while lying on his stomach to grab a puck as it slid through the crease.
The Habs couldn’t quite carry that momentum into the third. Montreal took a penalty early on and from there, despite a few solid scoring opportunities, were never able to generate the kind of offense needed to beat Miller.
With less than 30 seconds left, Gerbe sealed the victory with an incredible display of determination. As Price sat on the bench and Montreal tried to tie the game up on the man-advantage, Gerbe dove to knock the puck out of the Sabres zone. P.K. Suban took control, but Gerbe bull-rushed the fan favorite and managed to reclaim the puck before effortlessly sending it into the empty Montreal net.
Gerbe’s pair of goals extended his point-streak to three games, where he’s collected five goals and one assist throughout. Miller can also use the game as a highlight for his resume; the shutout was his 4th of the season, and the 21st of his career.
The win had greater significance than simply revitalizing a team that was only two days removed from a complete meltdown. Carolina also won their matchup on the night, lifting them to 78 points for the season. Had Buffalo lost, the Hurricanes would have only been one point behind the Sabres for that coveted 8th place seed in the Eastern Conference. The victory also ensured that Buffalo trailed the New York Rangers by only three points for the 7th place spot.