The Canadiens spotted the Buffalo Sabres a 2-0 first period lead, came back to tie the game but lost on a Sabres power play goal by Steve Ott in the overtime period. It was Ott’s second goal of the game. The defeat ended the Canadiens second five game winning streak of the season. Max Pacioretty and Colby Armstrong scored third period goals to tie the game. P.K. Subban took an ill-advised penalty in the overtime period that led to the winning goal. The Canadiens outshot Buffal;o 34-21 including 26-8 in the second and third periods. The overtime loss left the Canadiens three points behind Pittsburgh in the Eastern Conference, but with two games in hand. Boston lost in Winnipeg so they remain two behind Montreal, with only one game in hand now.
Summing It Up –
Too Casual – Two five game winning streaks have come to an end in similar fashion. On February 21st the Islanders beat them in overtime, this time the Sabres. In the Islanders game the Canadiens blew a 3-1 lead. Against the Sabres the Canadiens never had the lead. Among their ten losses this season are two to Buffalo, two to Toronto and twice to the Islanders. Can you find a pattern in that?
Sloppy – The Desharnais/Pacioretty/Gallagher line was on the ice for both first period goals. In each goal the Canadiens were guilty of three giveaways in their own end leading up to the goal.
Energy – In the first period the best Canadiens were the newly formed line of Gabriel Dumont, Ryan White and Travis Moen. That the fourth line is best at both ends of the ice tells you all you need to know about the first period.
Getting It Together – In today’s NHL come back from 2-0 is statistically rare. The last two periods was all uphill. The Canadiens outshot the bar-the-door Sabres 11-2 in the second period and couldn’t score, although on an early power play P.K. Subban unleashed four from the blueline, the most effective of which was a wrist shot that Michael Ryder tipped.
The Sparkplug – After 45 minutes of frustration, as we’ve seen so many times this year, it was Brendan Gallagher who got things going. Gallagher worked his magic under tough checking behind the Buffalo net. Reversing course he finally got the puck out to Pacioretty to finaly get the Canadiens on the board.
Tieing It Up – In the third period most of the offense came from the Eller line. They had a terrific shift just before the Gallagher/Pacioretty combination got the Canadiens on the board. And their work produced the tieing goal with Alex Galchenyuk setting up Colby Armstrong, who had time to go forehand to backhand to score on Enroth. In the third period alone the Eller line generated eleven shots, five of them on goal. And so, top overtime.
Save of the Night – With sixteen seconds left in the third period Enroth lunged across to the crease to glove what would have been a game winner from Brian Gionta, the Canadiens fifteenth shot of the third period. It was that kind of night.
Rash Act – Seventeen seconds into the overtime, for an unfathomable reason P.K. Subban, who up to that point, had been very good decided to take a run at Buffalo rookie defenceman Mark Pysyk. The referees could have called it any number of things, but it was named high sticking although any one watching the replays would be hard pressed to see the high stick. With one second left in the Sabres power play Steve Ott scored on Jordan Leopold’s rebound and it was over. (video below)
From the Room – Michel Therrien “It was a bad penalty. Especially with the effort the guys had in the second and third periods. But we’ll take care of that and make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
The Gamebreaker – The Canadiens totaled 34 shots on goal. They missed the net 24 times. Gionta, Galchenyuk and Markov missed the net four times each and Ryder three times.
The Reality – The Canadiens have still only one of their last 18 games in regulation time (13-1-4). They are two points ahead of the Bruins in the Northeast Division and Boston now has only one game in hand after their loss in Winnipeg. The next stop is the Islanders in New York Thursday. Then it’s Buffalo one more time at the Bell Centre on Saturday.
About The Penalty –Give Subban some credit, he turned up to face the media after the game and, while not calling out the referees, did say he spent too much time yapping at them during the game out of frustration for perceived missed calls. In his mind, the penalty was a form of payback. Probably not, but the call was a bad one, only matched by Subban taking himself out of position to initiate the check.
Here’s the video.