The Montreal Canadiens came out with guns a blazing tonight, unfortunately for them NHL games are 60 minutes long. The Sabres didn't look too bad in the first, but had trouble getting pucks to the net. Montreal on the other hand scored just 41 seconds into the game, as Kostitsyn managed to flick the puck over Miller's right pad off of a pass from Plekanec.
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The Sabres controlled the puck for most of the period, but Montreal made it difficult for Buffalo to get pucks on net. The Sabres managed to out-shoot Montreal 10-7 in the first, but blocked shots and messy passes gave the Sabres few scoring chances.
From the last 40 seconds of the 1st period to 7:35 into the 2nd Montreal was almost constantly on the Power play, capitalizing on the 3rd one as Kostitsyn again beat Miller 4:57 into the period.
After the Sabres killed off the 4th penalty Miller made two spectacular saves, and made a third one on a shorthanded breakaway attempt from Gionta later in the period.
After playing a solid 30 minutes of hockey Montreal started to take some avoidable penalties, committing 6 straight penalties, including a delay of game call on Price resulting from some pressure by Adam Mair forcing him out of the trapezoid. The effect of playing 2 games in 2 nights nights began to take it's toll on Montreal as the game waned on. Meanwhile Buffalo who was coming off of two nights rest tested Price with shot after shot.
When there was a TV timeout with roughly 5 minutes left the arena began to empty. For some reason it seemed more Montreal fans left than Sabres, perhaps too jaded from the knowledge that their lead was undeserved.
The Sabres effort finally paid off on a late power play goal. With 3 minutes left Lindy Ruff called a time out and left the net open, giving the Sabres a 6 on 4 advantage. Myers had a key keep in early in the power play, and later made a pass to Roy who blasted it off of Price. Price was having trouble with rebounds, and paid for it here as the recently stitched up Connolly leaned forward and tapped the puck in. Price's rebound woes continued just a minute later when he failed to control a shot from Pominville. It was an impressive save, but Sekera controlled the rebound, and got it to stafford. After a little tic-tac-toe passing sequence between Sekera, Pominville, and Stafford, Sekera had the puck again under center and blasted it towards the net. Price again made the save off of Montador's incidental deflection, but Montador tapped the puck towards the net and Gaustad banked it in. (Honestly the replay is unclear, and I wouldn't be surprised if Montador was given credit after review, but as of now Gaustad has the goal.)
In overtime Montreal committed a pointless interference penalty, and the Sabres almost put it away several times. In the last 10 seconds Miller made two more huge saves, and the game went to a shootout.
Pominville, angry from Connolly scoring earlier when he was about to send the puck home took an unexpected shot and got it in 5 hole. After 2 saves from Miller, and a miss by Stafford, Vanek put it away going over price's right shoulder and making it in off of the crossbar.
The 3 stars were a little surprising.
Despite nearly getting a hat trick Kostitsyn was snubbed. Pominville who was largely responsible for the tying goal and got the game winning shootout goal was snubbed. Miller who was the winning goalie, had two shootout saves, and a breakaway save was snubbed.
Roy who was only credited with an assist (albeit an impressive shot) took the third star, despite his turnovers. Price (who, granted, had 40 saves) let in 2/3 shootout goals, took a delay of game penalty, and lost the game. Connolly. Well, I have no problem with him getting a star.
Playoff implications: After the win the Sabres have 90 points with 10 games remaining. They face off against Ottawa on Friday who trails them by 7 points with 8 games remaining. The Sabres are tied with Jersey in points and games remaining. Jersey currently sits in 4th, a point behind Pittsburgh who only has 8 games remaining.
Montreal now has 80 points with 8 games remaining. They are in 6th in the conference, 3 points behind Ottawa, and one ahead of the Flyers, who have 9 games remaining. IN 8th is Boston, 2 points behind Montreal, but with 2 games in hand.
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