Two goals from Benoit Pouliot, including the game winner, helped the Canadiens record a 3-2 win over the slumping Sabres in Buffalo. In a game that was played in three acts, the Canadiens came from behind twice to get the win. The Canadiens were dominated in the first period and the Sabres were rewarded for their hard work when Mike Grier scored to give them a 1-0 lead. From that point the Canadiens appeared to recover their skating legs. Eighty-two seconds after Grier’s goal Jeff Halpern took a passout from Mathieu Darche to tie the game. The Sabres again took the lead midway through the second period on Jordan Leopold’s 4th goal of the season but again the Canadiens answered back quickly. Benoit Pouliot scored his first goal 46 seconds later with Darche again doing the hard work behind the net. The game winner was scored on a Pouliot slapshot with 2:48 remaining in the second period. Playing with the lead, the Canadiens limited the Sabres to four shots on goal in the third period. The win ended a two game losing streak for the Canadiens. They host Ottawa at the Bell Centre Saturday night.
(Highlight Video Below)
How It Went
The First Period
On Their Heels – The Sabres were ready to play. The Canadiens weren’t. Buffalo had them back in their own end for prolonged periods through the first twelve minutes of the first period.
Just Doing His Job – Carey Price posted his saves of the game early. At 11:15 Tomas Vanek got his third and fourth shots of the period close in on Price who especially good on the rebound. At that point the shots on goal were 10-2 for the Sabres.
The Usually Important First Goal– At 17:18 Jaroslav Spacek fell at the Sabres line allowing Buffalo to break away on a 3-on-1 with only Hamrlik back.
Tyler Ennis to Mike Grier and it was 1-0. Shots on goal were 16-7.
Bounce-Back – 1:22 later Mathieu Darche put in some hard work behind the Buffalo net, slipping the puck through a defenders legs to Jeff Halpern who was all alone. Tie game at the end of the first period. Shots on goal 16-10
The Second Period
More Buffalo Pressure – Carey Price again was very strong on two shots from the top of the crease by Tyler Ennis in the second minute.
Super Pest – In the 4th minute, the always thorny Patrick Kaleta tried to rough up Andrei Markov. Defending a team star, Josh Gorges jumped in. All three picked up roughing penalties. Buffalo failed to get a shot on the ensuing power play.
The Usually Important Second Goal – At 9:02 the Canadiens were outworked in front of the net by Paul Gaustad and Mike Grier, Jordan Leopold pinched in and scored over the top of Price’s outstretched pad and Buffalo had a 2-1 lead.
No Lead is Safe – This time it took only 46 seconds for Darche to go back to work behind the Buffalo net. This time he checked the puck away from Tyler Myers and fed it to Benoit Pouliot who went forehand to backhand. 2-2 tie.
Shutdown Mode – Despite being in a tie game, the Canadiens had taken over. Over the next seven minutes they outshot Buffalo 8-4. Three of their four shots were 50-footers.
Pouliot Again – Playing his best game of the season, Pouliot got the puck from Halpern at centre ice, cruised down the left boards and let a slapshot go from the faceoff circle that beat Patrick Lalime. At 17:12 of the second period the Canadiens had their first lead of the night. End of two periods 3-2. Shots on goal in the second period 15-11 for Montreal.
The Third Period
The Sabres Last Gasp – With Michael Cammalleri off for holding in the period’s second minute Tyler Ennis from inside 20 feet, let a hard wrist shot that Carey Price took off his shoulder. That came at 2:15.
Playing With The Lead – In the final 17:45 of the game the frustrated Sabres managed only two shots on goal; Myers from 45 feet and Grier from 48 feet. In the final 30 minutes of the game, the Canadiens defence allowed Buffalo only eight shots on goal. Final score – Montreal-3 Buffalo-2. The Canadiens outshot the Sabres 32-31.
Summing It Up – I suppose you can’t give Carey Price a star in every winning game the Canadiens play, but he deserves some mention for his work through the first half of the game. After that he could pretty much have sat in a rocking chair. Another road win and the Canadiens are one of the best road teams in the league through the first part of the season at 5 wins at two losses. No Tomas Plekanec in the lineup. He came down with a bug before the morning skate. The well is still dry when it comes to the first two lines. Lots of shots, and nothing to show for them. Gionta and Kostsitsyn totalled 9 shots playing with Gomez. Cammalleri, without Plekanec still rang up five of them. But in the end it was up to Jeff Halpern, Pouliot and Darche. They were on the ice for all three goals, Pouliot with two goals, Halpern a goal and two assists, Darche with the key first assists on both Pouliot goals. Those three have accounted for ten of the Canadiens thirty-two goals this season. So far this season the Canadiens are a heck of a road team with a 5-2-0 record (as compared with 3-2-1 at home). Six of the next seven Canadiens games are at home.
(Game Video Highlights)
The Goalscorers – Montreal – Halpern (4th) (Darche-Gorges); Pouliot (3rd) (Darche-Halpern); Pouliot (4th) (Halpern-Markov). Buffalo – Grier (1st) (ennis-Montador); Leopold (4th) (Grier-Gaustad).
Shots on Goal – Montreal – 10-15-7 = 32 Buffalo – 16-11-4 = 31