The Buffalo Sabres had a nice break off from action after beating the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday afternoon at the First Niagara Center. On Wednesday night, Buffalo got back to game action against the Montréal Canadiens for the final time this season.
Jack Eichel had given Buffalo its last win over Carolina in overtime when he beat goalie Cam Ward with one-second left on the clock. It was his 22nd goal of the season, and his 48th point.
While Eichel did a nice job filling in as the Sabres’ top-line center, Buffalo would get back its regular top-line center in Ryan O’Reilly. O’Reilly had missed the past eleven games with a broken bone in his foot suffered February 19th against the Columbus Blue Jackets. He would center the top line with Evander Kane and Nic Deslauriers.
As for Montréal, the Canadiens were coming off a 4-1 loss to the Florida Panthers on home-ice on Tuesday night.
The last time the Sabres and Canadiens had met was last week Thursday in Montréal when the Canadiens got a late goal from Torrey Mitchell for a 3-2 win. In that matchup, it was a physical affair with a lot of mix-ups and pushing and shoving between the players. That atmosphere would carry over from the last meeting and into the game on Wednesday.
Montréal would look to rebound from the loss the night before with Ben Scrivens in net, while the Sabres would turn back to Robin Lehner between the pipes.
The Sabres would, once again, force overtime this season but would fall short to the Canadiens 3-2.
The first period showed that these two teams still did not like each other from the last meeting. Hits were being thrown, words were exchanged, and penalties were shared by both teams.
The Sabres would get the first chance to get on the board as Canadiens defenseman Victor Bartley would go to the box for holding.
A minute later at the 15:17 mark of the first period, Zach Bogosian put the Sabres on the board with a goal off his own rebound. Bogosian would take a shot from inside the faceoff circle that was originally stopped by Scrivens. The puck would jump into the air and Bogosian would bat the puck into the net for his fifth goal of the year. The play would be reviewed for Bogosian hitting it in with a high stick, but the folks in Toronto deemed the goal to be good.
The first period would end with the Sabres in front 1-0, and out-shooting the Canadiens, 15-5.
It would not take long for the Candiens to tie up the hockey game in the second period as Greg Pateryn would net his first career NHL goal. Pateryn took a feed from Alex Galchenyuk and one-timed a shot past Lehner. The puck had looked to go off of Sam Reinhart on its way to the net, but the goal would come just 47-seconds into the period.
The physical play would continue into the second period with more pushing, shoving, face-washing, and pleasantries exchanged. A grand total of 58 penalty minutes were handed out to both teams in three different skirmishes in the period, and four different players were given ten minute misconducts.
With thirty seconds left in the second period, another meeting to the side of Robin Lehner in net would result in the third skirmish of the period. In the process, penalties would be assessed including a two-minute penalty to Robin Lehner for roughing. This would give the Canadiens a powerplay for the remainder of the period.
With just three-seconds left in the period, Montréal would gain the lead for the first time on the evening thanks to a goal from Andrei Markov. Markov’s shot was deflected of the stick of Brian Gionta, who tried to block the shot. The puck would then float on goal and Lehner would whiff on the glove hand to give Markov his fifth goal of the year.
The period would end with the Canadiens holding the 2-1 lead, but the Sabres still out-shooting the Habs by the total of 25-15 through two periods.
The aggressive, physical nature would calm down in the third period, but the pace of play would keep up throughout the period.
At the 9:03 mark of the third period, Evander Kane would take a cross-checking penalty on former Sabre, Paul Byron. In addition, Kane would get an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty after arguing with the officials, saying that Byron had embellished the call.
Even with the Sabres shorthanded, David Legwand would set up Marcus Foligno for a shorthanded goal to tie the game. Legwand took the puck and waited for his linemates to change. Foligno came on to the ice as the Canadiens were just starting to make a change of their own. Foligno would take Legwands pass with a ton of room and head to the Montréal net. Foligno would put a shot through the five-hole of Scrivens for his tenth goal of the season.
The score would remain 2-2 after 60-minutes of play, and the Sabres dominated in the shot department and had the momentum in its favor.
However, with 1:45 left to go in the overtime period, Byron would get a lucky bounce off of Bogosian on a 2-on-1 with Mitchell to give the Canadiens the extra point in overtime.
Now, the quick hits:
- Former Sabres haunt their former team
In the last meeting between the Sabres and Canadiens, Torrey Mitchell scored the game-winning goal against his former team in the third period in Montréal.
On Wednesday night, Paul Byron sunk his former team in overtime for a much-needed two points. Mitchell was the counterpart with Byron on the 2-on-1 that led to the game-winning goal.
In 60 games with the Sabres, Mitchell scored seven goals and had 14 points before being traded at last year’s deadline to the Canadiens. Mitchell was acquired from the Minnesota Wild at the 2014 NHL Trade Deadline in the Matt Moulson trade.
As for Byron, he played in just eight games with the Sabres in the 2010-11 season, putting up a goal and an assist. Byron was drafted by the Sabres back in the sixth round of the 2007 NHL Draft, but was traded away in the Robyn Regehr trade with the Calgary Flames.
Guess we cannot win all the trades…
- FINALLY! A FIRST PERIOD GOAL!
It had been 10 games since the Sabres had scored a first period goal, and 10 periods since the Sabres had a decent first period overall.
With Bogosian’s goal, he breaks that streak for the Sabres. What’s more significant is that Bogosian scored the last first period goal back on February 21st when he scored against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
In addition, the Sabres were dominating the Canadiens early as they out-shot the Habs 15-5, and out-chanced them in the period, 20-11.
If the Sabres can continue to have first periods like they did on Wednesday night, more better hockey games will come like Wednesday night. Thanks to the Sabres’ first period performance, it set the pace for them the rest of the game.
- DJ Bogo engaging beast mode
Even though the overtime goal went in off the stick of Bogosian, he had one of his best games as a Sabre.
In the first period alone, he registered five shots and scored his first period powerplay goal. He was one of the player who set the tone of the game early on with his offensive play and his physical, chippy play.
Bogosian finished the night with his goal, eight shots, 14 penalty minutes, and two blocked shots in 21:20 of total ice-time. Bogosian has also been, arguably, one of the best Sabres players since the All-Star Break, and has rebounded nicely from a slow start to the season.
We should all be looking forward to what Bogosian could do if he had a full season under his belt. Remember: he missed the first 25 games of the season with a lower-body injury.
Plus, look at his manly beard…
- This game nearly hits a boiling point
For the longest time, many of us were just waiting for a line brawl to occur. The tempo and chippy play kept escalating, and at the 19:30 mark of the second period, it nearly happened.
After Lehner held on to a Tomas Plekanec shot, Legwand gave Canadiens forward Lars Eller a nice shot as he went to the net. Eller retaliated with a shot of his own, and then the calvary came in. As the pile of players kept mixing it up next to the net, Lehner grabbed Michael McCarron off the top of the pile and pulled him off. McCarron retaliated by grabbing Lehner by the mask, and then Scrivens skated to his own blue line and was ready for Lehner if need be.
Lehner was more than willing to take on Scrivens if he skated past his blue line, but Scrivens wisely decided not to engage the 6′ 5″ Swedish beast.
— Marc Dumont (@MarcPDumont) March 17, 2016
In total tonight, the Sabres were charged for a season-high 52 penalty minutes on the night, while the Canadiens were charged with 48 penalty minutes. Add it up, and you got a sum total of 100 penalty minutes.
After the game, Scrivens talked to David Amber with the Canadiens media and said that while him and Lehner are friends…
- Foligno on fire
Marcus “Moose” Foligno has been playing some of the best hockey of his career since the All-Star Break. In 20 games during that span, Foligno has scored seven goals and registered ten points.
Overall this season, Foligno has already surpassed his career-high in goals with 10, and has tied his career-high in points with 20 from last season.
The last time Foligno played this well in a season was probably back in his rookie year where he put up nearly a point a game in his first 14 games in the 2011-12 season.
While many have been disappointed with his play in prior years and wanting the Sabres to move on from the Buffalo native, Foligno is beginning to find his game once again with Johan Larsson and Brian Gionta. His line has been, arguably, the most consistent line for the Sabres all season long, and the line continues to get better and better.
Foligno may be a restricted free agent at the end of the season, but it may be worth another shot at keeping him here in Buffalo and see if he can build off this season.