The Buffalo Sabres faced the Montreal Canadians Tuesday for the first game back from the All Star break, but the Sabres apparently didn’t get the memo. The Canadians stepped on the gas and didn’t let up through 60 minutes of hockey.
The opening period started off with both teams exchanging penalties, with both being killed. Max Pacioretty opened the scoring in the first beating Lehner blocker side on a 2-on-1 rush.
Heading into the second, Pacioretty ripped a one timer top shelf caused by a Foligno turnover behind the net for his 2nd goal of the game. David Desharnais got his 4th of the season via turnover by Cody Franson on the Sabres defensive zone. An attempt to clear the puck out of the Sabres defensive zone struck Kyle Okposo in the leg that had him struggling to get to the bench. That turnover resulted in another Canadians goal, this time by Paul Byron who netted his 14th of the year beating Lehner 5 hole.
Pacioretty netted a hat trick by scoring a goal off of an Alexander Radulov rebound in front of a crowded net giving Pacioretty his 24th goal of the season and giving the Canadians a 5-0 lead heading into the third.
A glimmer of hope for the Sabres came with 3:56 remaining in the third when Dmitry Kulikov received the face off from Cal O’Reilly and hammered a slap shot from just inside the blue line over Carey Price’s left shoulder giving him his first goal of the season and snapping a 72 game scoreless streak.
Alexei Emelin was sent to the box after cross checking Brian Gionta, but it would be Gionta who capitalized on the power play by taking the rebound from a Cody Franson shot that Price couldn’t get ahold of. With 2:12 remaining, Gio netted the second Sabres goal of the game gave reason to believe that maybe, just maybe, we could see another last minute comeback. However a fire started beneath the Sabres too little too late as time expired with the Canadians winning 5-2.
Looking at the stat sheet, you couldn’t tell that the Sabres were manhandled the entire game. Buffalo outshot Montreal 39-35 and leading all other statistical categories except for giveaways. A dismal defensive effort and sloppy turnovers doomed the Sabres who cannot seem to leave .500 purgatory. Jack Eichel summed it up pretty well.
We shot ourselves in the foot too much, a team like that you can’t turn the puck over, it was all from us giving them the puck,” Eichel said.
The next game is slated for Thursday at home as the New York Rangers come to town.