Carey Price stopped all 24 Buffalo shots as the Canadiens completed a four game season sweep of the Sabres.
Daniel Briere completed the scoring with a power play goal with just under four minutes remaining. It was the Canadiens 6th win in the last seven games and the second time Canadiens goaltending had shutout Buffalo in nine days. Final shots on goal favoured the Canadiens 35-24. The three stars were Price, Thomas Vanek and Buffalo goaltender Matt Hackett.
Adding It Up –
Tough Sledding – The Canadiens coaches and players felt the team played pretty well against the Sabres. Twenty-thousand plus in the seats might disagree. It was a grinder. The Sabres don’t have a lot of talent. What there is of it can only succeed if they play a shutdown game. For two and a half periods they did a pretty good job.
The Fatigue Factor – Monday night the Canadiens were involved in one of those surreal games against the Bruins and came away with the shootout win. In the first period, the residual effects of a hard day’s night were evident. The Sabres actually outshot the Canadiens 11-10, which speaks more to a territorial edge than the quality of the scoring chances.
Taking Over – The ice started to tilt in the second period and through the final forty minutes the Canadiens outshot the Sabres 25-13. But for some good work from Matt Hackett in the Buffalo net, they probably could have put this thing away early.
At the Other End – Ken Dryden used to rate his shutouts as of the “working” or “non-working” variety. Sometimes you have to stand on your head, others it’s simply routine. For the most part, Carey Price was unchallenged. His defence kept the lanes open and he saw practically everything that came his way.
The Winner – Just past midway in the third period, still scoreless and Thomas Vanek, who had been prominent against his former teammates, set up Max Pacioretty for the tap-in for the 1-0 lead. 32 for Pacioretty, which is one shy of his career high and the j100th of his career.
The Last Hurrah – With five minutes left in the game, it was still up for grabs. A bad bounce or a mistake could still hurt the Canadiens. With 3:17 remaining the Sabres Cory Hodgson, while killing a penalty, danced around Mike Weaver to go in alone on goal. Price shut him down and the puck went back up ice with Rene Bourque forcing it to Daniel Briere, who roofed it to clinch the win.
Also Worth Mentioning ……..The Canadiens announced they have lost Travis Moen for at least a week with a concussion and Dale Weise for 2-to-3 weeks with a wrist injury. Add in Brandon Prust and that’s the whole fourth line. …….Lars Eller/Michael Bournival and Ryan White the fourth line in this game and they had a very good night. …….It’s hard to figure the reasons, but since he was separated from Tomas Plekanec, Brian Gionta is playing his best hockey of the season. Plekanec centred Galchenyuk and Gallager. Gionta was with Bourque and Briere. Both lines were solid again. ….I could say the same thing about Alexei Emelin back on defense. He seems to have picked up his game and is playing with more confidence than we saw in the month of February. ….An awful night for the power play until the end. Through the first five advantages, the Canadiens totaled only four shots; none during a double minor handed Matt D’Agostini in the second period. Briere ended that misery with the PP goal late in the third. ……On the other end of the special teams, the Habs killed all four Buffalo power play opportunies. Thats success on 36 of the last 38, a glittering 94.7 percent. ……The win puts the Canadiens in second place in the Atlantic Division, two ahead of idle Tampa who carry two games in hand. Toronto is now nine points behind the Canadiens and with their loss to St. Louis Tuesday are in a four way tie for the final two wildcard berths.
Moving On – The Canadiens have taken the first three of eight in a row against Atlantic Division teams. The next four are on the road starting in Detroit Thursday, Florida on Saturday and that big game against Tampa next Tuesday.