Featured Image Credit KEVIN HOFFMAN/GETTY IMAGES
Buffalo, NY – The Montreal Canadiens erased two, 1-goal deficits Thursday night in route to a 3-2 shootout win over the Buffalo Sabres. Philip Danault’s short-handed goal in the third period tied the game forcing overtime. Neither team scored in the extra session, sending the game to the shootout.
Jonathon Drouin scored on his breakaway attempt which proved to be the difference in the hockey game.
Buffalo’s Jason Pominville made a ceremonious return to the KeyBank Center netting both Sabres goals The first goal drew an assist from rookie Seth Griffith while the Sabres were on the power play. Jack Eichel and Evander Kane assisted on Pommer’s 2nd goal, which came in the opening minute of the 2nd period. “It was a special night” Pominville said after the game. “The effort was there, we did a lot of good things, we need to build on that.”
The Habs Max Pacioretty drilled a one-timer past Sabres goaltender Robin Lehner in the first period. Pacioretty was the beneficiary of Ryan O’Reilly’s mishandling of the puck in the Buffalo zone and Montreal pounced on the opportunity and tied the game. “They (Sabres) play really hard, good skating team” Pacioretty said. “We were patient an played our game.”
Buffalo outshot Montreal 45-40 and successfully killed off 4 Canadien power-play’s. The Sabres went 1-5 with the man advantage.
The Danault goal in the 3rd was another mental breakdown in the Buffalo end. Taking advantage of a Sabres turnover behind their own goal, Danault swiftly came up with the puck and buried a wrap around just inside the post behind Robin Lehner.
You can say it’s only one game, one shootout loss and the Sabres still registered a point in the standings but please, spare me. I’d accept the excuses had Jack Eichel actually participated in the shoot out! Phil Housley may turn out to be a great head coach but on Thursday, he pulled a Dick Jauron.
How do you explain to the fan base that the highest paid and most offensively gifted player on the team is not one of the first three participants in the shootout? That’s like Pittsburgh not using Sidney Crosby or Edmonton leaving Connor McDavid on the bench with the game on the line, its indefensible. “There was consideration (for Eichel) but we went with the percentages tonight,” Housley said. “It was unfortunate we didn’t get one past Carey Price but remember he’s a pretty good goalie too.”
For what it’s worth, the team was flying last night. Lehner wasn’t all bad either. There were a number of key saves throughout the night particularly in the early first period. Montreal sprayed Lehner with the game’s first seven chances. Buffalo had their share of opportunities and the level of consistency they played with throughout Thursday is certainly a good sign.
Still, Lehner continues to struggle during the shootout. Which is why you need Eichel in that spot.
- Shew Weber (MTL) led all skaters with 29:30 TOI
- Victor Mete (MTL) was the No. 100 overall pick during the 2016 NHL Entry Draft held right here in Buffalo. The defensemen registered a plus/minus 1 in his regular season debut and was paired with Weber on the top defensive unit. “I felt really good out there and happy with how I played,” Mete said.
- Kyle Okposo (BUF) played in his first regular season game since suffering a serious health scare late last year. Playing with Ryan O’Reilly and Benoit Pouliot, the winger registered two shots on goal in 19:58 of ice-time. He was also on the ice for both Montreal goals.
- Before the game, the Sabres welcomed Marian J. Morreale a 94-year old World War II veteran to the ice for the singing of both the US and Canadian National Anthem’s. From her wheel chair and using the aid of a walker, Morreale, stood on her right leg for the singing of the “Star-Spangled Banner” which drew a nice applause from the sold out crowd. It was certainly one of the highlights from the night. Morreale had her left leg amputated last year and was well aware of the national debate on the subject of kneeling. Watch Here
- Sabres defenseman Zach Bogosian and forward Evan Rodriguez were held out of the game with injuries while Matt Moulson (F) and Josh Gorges (D) were healthy scratches.
Saturday at N.Y. Islanders 7pm