This was a matter of survival for the Canadiens who left their legs on the ice in Vancouver.   In the fourth game of a coasst to coast road trip there was no ‘jump’ to their game and the Sabres took full advantage.  Another close game, which is a familiar story  when these teams get together.   In their last eleven meetings no game has been decided by more than two goals.  Seven by one goal and five of the last eight games have gone to overtime.

Adding It Up –

……Out Of Gas – The Sabres were first on the puck almost the entire night.  Chalk it up to a fourth road game in seven nights capped by a cross continent Sunday trip from Vancouver and an hour lost in the switch to daylight saving time.

……The First Star –  The only reason the game was close was the work of Peter Budaj who was making his second start in the last three Canadiens games.  .  The final 17 minutes of the first period the Canadiens were outshot 12-2 but the Canadiens got out of the period with a 1-0 lead.  He stopped 33 of the 36 Buffalo shots, the most notable of those was a save on Thomas Vanek’s screen shot in the first period, a glove save on Derek Roy in the second period and another one on Vanek when he was in alone with nine minutes left in regulation time.

……Back to Earth – Not a great night for Andrei Markov.  He was on the ice for both Sabres goals in regulation time.  He failed to step into Tyler Ennis, allowing him to dance around him to go one-on-one with Budaj for the first goal and in the second goal, Markov was caught up ice on a two-on-one that eventually was deflected past Budaj off Emelin’s stick.

……Feeling Good – After a nine game injury plagued scoring drought,  Erik Cole has rediscovered his scoring touch.  He scored the first goal of the game, his 4th along with three assists in the last five games.  Over that span he’s taken 17 shots on goal and had 15 scoring chances.  With 26 goals and 25 assists and ten games to play, Cole is getting close to his best NHL seasons (30 goals six years ago; and 61 pts. five years ago)

……The Generator – After missing a game with a minor hip problem, David Desharnais was back in form.  His brilliant little touch pass to Erik Cole set up the first goal and he scored the tieing goal with just under five seconds left to send it to overtime.  His line generated eleven of the Canadiens 28 shots on goal.

…..One Dimensional – Very little of an offensive nature heard from the other three lines most of whom tiptoed their way through the area in front of Ryan Miller like it was littered with landmines.   Of the 17 shots taken by players not on the Desharnais line, only six were taken by the other forwards.  None of them were memorable.  Members of the defence found the net eleven times led by Subban with 4.

……Also Noteworthy –    ……There was some life to Scott Gomez’ game.  He was very good bringing the puck through centre ice and into the Sabres end.  Unfortunately, from that point on, nothing much happened, which can also be said about his work on defense.  The league will be looking into the Tyler Myers boarding of Gomez in the third period.  …..Additionally, Lars Eller is not a left winger.  If the coaches want or are forced to keep this line together, better to make Gomez the winger and move Eller back to the middle.   ……Tomas Plekanec was back to centering Rene Bourque and Ryan White.  Plekanec had two shots, his wingers none.  ……Bourque was in one of those periodic disappearing acts we were told by Calgary people to expect.  His only shot attempt in the game was blocked and he didn’t hit anyone.  ……Blake Geoffrion had eleven shifts and 7:39 icetime.  Only Brad Staubitz logged fewer minutes.   ……Max Pacioretty took a Tyler Myers shot off his ankle in the first minute of the second period that had everyone holding their breath.  He immediately left for the dressing room and didn’t return to the game until early in the third period.

The Draft Lottery Race – Overall Standings Updated

22nd – Tampa Bay    69 pts.  14 games remaining

23rd – Anaheim         69 pts.  12 remaining

24th – Toronto          68 pts.  13 remaining

25th – Minnesota     68         13

26th – Carolina         67          13

27th – NY Islanders 66          13

28th – Canadiens     65 pts.  12  remaining

29th – Edmonton     59          13

30th – Columbus      51          13

Ahead –   Starting with the Buffalo game, the Canadiens are playing four games in six nights.  Wednesday it’s Ottawa at the Bell Centre; in Ottawa Friday and back home for the Islanders on Saturday.