sabres exhibitionThe Canadiens opened their exhibition schedule with a 5-4 shootout loss to the Buffalo Sabres Sunday night at the Bell Centre.   Mikhail Grigorenko beat rookie Zach Fucale with a high backhand on the Sabres second shootout attempt.

Zemgus Girgensons scored twice to lead the Sabres.  Jamie McBain and Colton Gillies also scored Buffalo goals.  For the Canadiens Michael Bournival scored twice with Martin St. Piettre and Erik Nystrom getting the others.   The Sabres outshot the Canadiens 27-25.

Getting Their Chance – The Canadiens dressed 13 rookies for the game.  The game’s first star was Michael Bournival, the Hamilton Bulldogs leading scorer last season.  Bournival scored twice and his line, with American Hockey League veteran Martin St. Pierre and 2013 first round draft pick Michael McCarron finished with six scoring points.  McCarron seems to improving day by day.  He used his size well and was the first assist on one of the Bournival goals and another from St. Pierre.

Once again, 18 year old forward Martin Reway showed excellent skills and hockey sense.  He’ll be heading back to Gatineau in the QMJHL in the next day or so.   Same thing for McCarron who be joining the London Knights.

On defence, a particularly good night from Greg Pateryn who led the Canadiens with three assists.   Jarred Tinordi was also exceptional.

Zach Fucale replaced Peter Budaj midway through the game and gave up a goal on the first shot he faced.  He then settled down,  He was in the game 31:23 stopping 13 of 15 shots.  His rebound control isn’t what it should be, something he’ll be asked to improve when he returns to his Halifax junior team.

The Veterans -By exhibition hockey standards this was a pretty entertaining game, especially considering it was the first game for both clubs.  Only eight of last season’s regulars were in the game.  Eller/Galchenyuk/Gallagher was the only intact forward unit and, although held off the scoresheet, as you might imagine, they were the game’s dominant unit.  With the veterans setting their own training camp pace, this was night for the rookies to shine and on this night they gave fans a lot to think about and look forward to.

Next Up – The Boston Bruins Monday night at the Bell Centre.  Gametime 7.00pm