The Canadiens ended a six game losing streak against the Sabres at a critical time. The loss sent the Sabres to the cellar of the Eastern Conference while the Canadiens at least kept pace with the teams they are trying to overhaul in the seemingly hopeless attempt to reach the playoffs. Their 5-1-1 record over the last seven games leaves them in eleventh place in their conference, six points behind eighth place Toronto. Buffalo sinks to last place in the East.
Adding It Up –
…..Getting the Message – After a difficult week Scott Gomez put in his best game of the season. He scored his second goal on a power play to tie the game at 2-2 with 14 seconds left in the first period. He was very much a goalmouth presence on the Canadiens go-ahead goal scored by Chris Campoli and led a very aggressive defensive and offensive effort with his linemates Andrei Kostitsyn and Ryan White.
….Sandpaper – They use that word a lot when it comes to Ryan White who drew his first point of the season on the Campoli goal. White was very much in the face of the Sabres the entire night. The coach liked it too. On a fourth line with Gomez/Kostitsyn he was given 19 shifts.
…..Unsung – Carey Price isn’t going to get enough credt for this win. He had zero chance on any of the three goals, but made terrific saves on Regehr late in the second period, Leopold in the third and Ehrhoff in the overtime. And he stopped two high percentage shootout players in Boyes and Pominville to nail down the two points.
…..Settling In – With Hal Gill traded, the rookies Alexei Emelin and Raphael Diaz established themselves as the number two defence behind Gorges/Subban. Nothing wrong with that in this game. Emelin was minus-1 in the game only because he had a puck go off his leg past Price while he was dfending in front of the net. They were together for 18 of their 24 shifts. Campoli and Weber were the most popular third pairing with Kaberle bouncing around from pairing to pairing depending on the situation.
…..Hearing the Coach – A hard working effort from the forwards allowed the Canadiens defence to play up at their blueline making it very diffiicult to penetrate the Canadiens zone. When they did, forwards and defence forced most of the play away to the boards away from the scoring areas. The Sabres were limited to 12 scoring chances.
…..The Power Play – The Canadiens were credited with a 1-for-2 night on their power play. In reality it was 2-for-3. Tomas Kaberle pinched in from the blueline to score one-second after a penalty to Tomas Vanek had expired. Officially, the Canadiens have six power play goals in their last 21 opportunities; which is 28.5%, far above their season average of 13.5%.
Worth Noting – ……..Not much offensively even strength from the Desharnais/Cole/Pacioretty line (1 scoring chance). Different matter on the power play where, in the first opportunity the line plus Subban and Kaberle held the Sabres in their own end for an uninterrupted two minutes. Kaberle scored one second after the penalty expired. The Canadiens had 3;59 of power play time; Desharnais’ line was on the ice for 3:24. ……The hitting game was dominated by the Canadiens 18-9 with Emelin leading the way as usual, with 4. In the first two periods it was 15-4.
…..Ahead – The Canadiens are home for two more before a three game road trip. New Jersey plays at the Bell Centre Sunday at 6:05pm. Dallas on Tuesday. Then it’s road games in Washington, Florida and Tampa Bay.
The Standings – To get to the eighth place Toronto Maple Leafs the 11th place Canadiens must first overhaul 10th place Winnipeg who are four points ahead of them and then Washington.
Pts. Games Left Schedule
8th – Toronto 64 24 At Vancouver Saturday.
9th – Washington 63 25 Defeated Florida 2-1 Friday at Sunrise.
10th- Winnipeg 62 22 Defeated Boston 4-2 Friday in Winnipeg. Host Colorado Sunday.
11th – Canadiens 58 23 Play New Jersey Sunday at Bell Centre.
12th- Tampa Bay 56 25 Host Washington Saturday.
13th- Islanders 56 25 Will play at Long Island Saturday.
14th- Carolina 55 24 Host the Islanders Saturday.
15th- Buffalo 55 24 Host Pittsburgh Sunday.