Quick Hits: Sabres at Canadiens

Sabres-Canadiens


Coming off a 4-2 loss to the New York Rangers on Tuesday night, the Buffalo Sabres went back up north for another divisional clash with the Montréal Canadiens at the Bell Centre on Thursday night.

After a four-game losing streak, the Canadiens got an overtime win over the Dallas Stars on home-ice on Tuesday night. Alex Galchenyuk scored the game-winning goal with 3:01 left to go in overtime. Galchenyuk has been red-hot for the Canadiens coming into Thursday’s game with nine goals and 10 points over the past seven games.

The Sabres and Canadiens would trade goals in the second and third period, before former Sabre Torrey Mitchell scored with 6:39 to play to give the Canadiens a 3-2 win.

The first period was a back-and-forth battle, but neither team could find the back of the net. Buffalo led in the shots department with 12 shots compared to Montréal’s 10, but the Canadiens led in shot attempts, 23-to-20.

The Sabres would get on the board first in this game thanks to a nice tip-in goal from Nicolas Deslauriers. Jake McCabe threw a shot towards the net, and Desaluriers got a piece of it to re-direct the shot past Condon for his fifth goal of the season.

The lead would last just nine-seconds as Montréal would tie the game when the red-hot Galchenyuk netted his 24th goal of the season. Canadiens captain Max Pacioretty tried to throw a backhand pass to the front of the net, but it would go off the paddle of Robin Lehner’s stick and right to Galchenyuk. Galchenyuk then put a wrist shot to the top part of the net on the glove side.

About two-and-a-half minutes later, Deslauriers would trade in his goal scoring skills for his fighting skills as he stepped up and fought Canadiens’ tough guy, Mike Brown. Both players got in some heavy punches on one another before going down to the ice.

The score would remain tied at one until late in the second period when Zach Bogosian would go to the penalty box for slashing. On the powerplay, P.K. Subban would fight hard to keep the play alive along the boards. After Sven Andrighetto’s first attempt to get it to the front did not make it, he would try again to find Galchenyuk all alone in front of the net. Galchenyuk would one-time his shot past Lehner for his second goal of the game with just 43.1 seconds to go in the period.

The Sabres would, once again, out-shoot the Canadiens in the second period, but Montréal went into the second intermission with a 2-1 lead.

After the first shift of the third period, Marcus Foligno would drop his gloves and take on Canadiens defenseman, Greg Pateryn. Foligno would get a few good haymakers in before the fight would be broken up after his jersey came up and over his head.

Buffalo would a chance on the powerplay just three minutes into the third, but Buffalo was unsuccessful on the attempt. However, just 10-seconds after the powerplay had expired, Sabres captain Brian Gionta would feed the puck off to Evander Kane along the boards. Gionta would head to the net, and Kane would throw the puck on goal. The puck would re-direct off the skate of Gionta and into the back of the net for his ninth goal of the year, and to tie the game back up, 2-2.

Buffalo and Montréal would go back and forth with good chances, but the Canadiens began to be too much for the Sabres as they took over in the final few minutes of the game.

At the 6:39 mark of the third period, a point shot from Mark Barberio would stun Lehner just enough for him not to be able to corral himself for a rebound from Mitchell. Mitchell would release a quick shot and beat Lehner for his eighth goal of the year.

A scary moment with just 2:26 left in the game as Foligno and Subban were chasing the puck down in the left corner of the Montréal net, and Subban would go down to his knees. As Subban glided along the ice, teammate Alexei Emelin came in to help support Subban, but collided with Subban in his head area. Subban went down in a world of pain, and was stretchered off the ice as a precaution.

The Canadiens would hold the fort after that, as the Sabres would have its chances but Montréal would shut the door and beat Buffalo by a final score of 3-2.

Now, the quick hits:

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    • Be okay, P.K.

Subban is, perhaps, the most prolific player on the Canadiens roster, and one of the most prolific players in the NHL.

Not only is he a great player, but he is, more importantly, a fantastic human being and representative for the league. Before the game, Subban was honored by the Canadiens for his kindness, generosity, and contributions in the Montréal community. He has donated a mass-amount of money to the local children’s hospital in Montréal, and is a beloved figure in the city.

Seeing P.K. get carted off the ice after colliding with Emelin in the corner was a scary moment, but it was a blessing to see that he was moving his fingers to show he was okay.

He was taken to the hospital, but reports are that Subban is doing just fine and is being overlooked by the medical staff.

Please get better soon, P.K. Hope to see you on the ice soon.

    • Better first, but still no scoring

The Sabres continue to struggle in the first period of play this season.

Not only has Buffalo only mustered 36 goals in the first period this season, but the team has not scored a first period goal in the past nine games. That last first period goal came back on February 21 at home against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Although, Thursday’s performance in Montréal was one of the best first period performances we have seen in some time. Buffalo out-shot the Canadiens 12-to-10, but still were out-chanced 23-to-20.

With 13 games left to go this season, we can only hope to see a first period goal at some point down the stretch.

    • Robin gets no love

The Sabres continue to give no love and support for their goaltender in net.

Lehner was looking very good in net once again for the Sabres after a shaky start against the Rangers where he was pulled in the second period. On the night, Lehner stopped 31 of 34 shots faced, and was able to help keep his team in the contest throughout the night.

So far this season, Lehner is 5-9-4 with a 2.45 goals-against average and a .926 save-percentage. May not be the most impressive numbers, but considering he missed over half the season with a lower-body injury, he has been performing exceptionally well.

Lehner is expected to get a majority of the starts down the stretch for the Sabres, and he should get the time in net. Lehner is expected to be the future starting goaltender for the Sabres, and he needs all the ice-time he can get in the final 13 games.

As of right now, we should not panic. Lehner is playing very well in net.

    • Lots of physicality 

It a physical game between the Sabres and Canadiens throughout the night.

It really started when Emelin ran Sam Reinhart from behind into the boards late in the first period. The play probably should have been a boarding call as Reinhart did not have time to brace for a hit and did not turn into the hit, but no call was made on Emelin. The only call came from Evander Kane’s reaction after the play as he got called for unsportsmanlike conduct.

In the second period, it was Deslauriers and Brown dropping the gloves after having some chatter throughout their shift in the second period.

Early in the third period, Pateryn would push Gionta into the back of the Montréal net well after the play was whistled dead, and Foligno took exception immediately.

The night would finish with a total of 74 hits, 38 for Buffalo and 36 for Montréal, and two fights.

Buffalo and Montréal will meet one last time this season on Wednesday night at the First Niagara Center.

    • Gotta love Saturday matinées

The Sabres have played a total of nine matinée games this season, and have two more left to play this season.

On Saturday, the Sabres will welcome the Carolina Hurricanes to the First Niagara Center for the second and final time this season. The Sabres will later have one more meeting with the Hurricanes in Raleigh on March 22.

Overall this year, the Sabres are 4-3-2 in matinée games, and have played some of its best hockey when playing in the afternoons.

Plus, it is nice to have some afternoon hockey, then have the rest of the day to do other fun things in life!

Sunny Dancing

Written by Brayton Wilson

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