The Canadiens beat the Buffalo Sabres 3-1 Wednesday night in Buffalo for their season high fourth win in a row. Montreal took a 2-0 lead on goals by Alex Galchenyuk and David Desharnais and then tightened up. Matt Moulson scored to make it 2-1 but Brendan Gallagher’s power play goal with 1:44 remaining clinched it. Shots on goal were 31-25 in favour of the Canadiens. The Canadiens win combined with Toronto’s shootout loss in Pittsburgh allowed the Habs to tie the Leafs for fifth place in the Eastern Conference standings, one point behind Detroit.
The best Canadiens in the game were P.K. Subban, Andrei Markov and David Desharnais.
Adding It Up –
Setting The Table – Carey Price had to deal with only five shots as for the fourth time in the last five games the Canadiens held their opponent off the scoresheet in the first period. The only exception in that stretch was Washington where Alex Ovechkin scored with 23 seconds remaining and the Canadiens already leading 3-0.
Going For It – Late in the first, Lars Eller raced down the right boards on a two-on-one with Galchenyuk. With Galchenyuk going to the blue paint, Eller fed the puck to Markov, the trailer on the play. His shot hit Galchenyuk’s leg and in. 1-0 end of the first.
On Deaf Ears – The warning is out for all who will listen. Don’t take bad penalties against the Canadiens, especially when they are on the road. Marcus Foligno picked up a retaliation roughing penalty on P.K. Subban. Subban they compounded the folly by whistling a shot from the blueline that David Desharnais tipped past Ryan Miller to make it 2-0. The Canadiens have scored at least one power play goal in each of their eleven road games this season.
Nobody’s Perfect – With 2 ½ minutes left in the second period Subban went back to get a puck in the corner. He was knocked down by the Sabres Drew Stafford who quickly took the puck and fed Matt Moulson in front to make it 2-1. Blame Subban but someone on the Desharnais line failed to pick up Moulson who was all alone.
Game Changer – Carey Price again. The Canadiens were dominating the third early when in the 7th minute Marcus Foligno beat Raphael Diaz and had a clean break. Shootout style hockey and Price stuck his right pad out to save what would have been the game-tieing goal. It was the last important Buffalo scoring chance in the game.
Slugging It Out – In the melee that followed the Foligno breakaway, Buffalo goon John Scott took on Douglas Murray. Two heavyweights. Despite suffering a cut that needed stitches to repair, Murray handled himself very well in what was probably ruled a draw by those who are enthusiastic about judging such things.
The Clincher – Another bad penalty (folks in Buffalo had a case for calling it a cheap one). Tyler Ennis ran a pick on Ryan White and was called for interference. On the power play, Brendan Gallagher ; got Desharnais’ pass in mid-slot and one-timed it past Miller for the final goal.
Also Worth Mentioning – …….The Canadiens power play was 2-for-4 in the game. At 31%, they lead the league on the road with 13 in 11 games. …….Did somebody take the shackles off P.K. Subban? We saw the old exuberant, rambunctious, puck carrying P.K. in this game. He only had one shot on goal, but he took eight of them. ….Andrei Markov and Subban were on the ice for all three goals. (Markov had three assists) The Canadiens have scored a total of 67 goals this season, Markov has been on the ice for 45 of them (67%) and Subban 44 (65.6%). ….Michel Therrien continued his pattern of moving Travis Moen up to play with Plekanec and Gionta in the third periods of close games. As usual Moen did the job. ……If you had to pick a line that did it’s job assignment better than any other, look no further than White/Bournival and Moen through the first two periods. Michel Therrien saw it too. He used them a lot. Through the first forty minutes they logged only two fewer even strength shifts than the Desharnais or Plekanec lines. …..Carey Price? He hasn’t allowed more than two his last seven starts, stopping 204 of the last 215 shots for a save percentage of .948. ………Although he had been showing slow signs of improvement, this was the first time I thought Douglas Murray looked comfortable on the ice. Still no speed burner but he seemed to be there when they needed him. And he gets high marks for taking on the 6’8″ Scott in that third period fight.
Moving On – The Canadiens are in Washington Friday for a 5:05 pm game, then home to the Leafs on Saturday night, games two and three of the seven in eleven nights the schedule maker has handed them.