After the Boston Bruins steamrolling of Ryan Miller elicited little on-ice response from the Buffalo Sabres players on Saturday, and the ensuing drubbing in a 6-2 loss, the hockey world was curious how the team would respond on Monday night at the Bell Centre against the Montreal Canadiens.
They responded decently with a 3-2 shootout victory.
Entering the night, the Canadiens had won a measly 2 out of 8 home games this season. They were also without two of their top players, Hal Gill and Mike Cammalleri. The Sabres benched Tyler Myers (anyone watching the game on Versus was reminded of this about 3 dozen times by announcer Kenny Albert) in favor of Mike Weber. With Miller out due to a concussion, Jhonas Enroth was granted the start against Carey Price.
After a lackluster opening period, Erik Cole put Canadiens on the board first with a power play goal at 3:58 of the second period. For the season, the Montreal power play could be considered anemic, ranking 26th in the league with just 8 goals in 65 chances. At 14:17, Max Pacioretty scored his team-leading eighth goal of the season, pushing the lead to 2-0. At this point in the game, the Sabres seemed somewhat off-balance. They were by far more aggressive and physical than they were in Boston, but there was a lack of cohesiveness to their play. Paul Gaustad seemed to be overcompensating in the game to make up for his lack of response to the Miller incident in Boston, taking a very undisciplined penalty.
Something happened during the second intermission. Maybe there was some sort of “win one for the Miller” speech. Jason Pominville came out and blistered a slap shot past Price just 53 seconds into the 3rd period, cutting the lead in half. The Sabres play was visibly improved, and much of the play was spent in the Montreal zone. At the 12:30 mark, Derek Roy was able to tie the game, netting his 6th goal of the season. There was no scoring for the remainder of the period, sending the Habs to their 3rd straight overtime. Going into the extra period, Jhonas Enroth had never lost a game that went past regulation, and it would stay that way. Going into the shootout, Carey Price had not stopped a single shot, and it would stay that way.
The highlight of the overtime was Cole, when he purposely ran into Enroth, possibly as some type of cruel joke. See it HERE.
In the shootout, Enroth stopped shots by Tomas Plekanec and Rochester native Brian Gionta, and gave up a goal to Pacioretty. Thomas Vanek and Brad Boyes scored on both of their shootout attempts. Boyes is now 2nd among active NHL players in the shootout, with 26 goals on 54 attempts, good for an outstanding 48.15% success ratio.
Enroth continues to quietly build his resume for Calder Memorial Trophy consideration, as he is now 6-0 on the season. He finished the game with 25 saves, and is now 4th among NHL goalies with a 1.76 goals against and .942 save percentage. Thomas Vanek is 2nd in the league with 11 goals, and 2nd in points with 22. Pominville is 3rd in the NHL with 21 points.
Buffalo is now 11-6 on the season. Next up: the Sabres 3rd straight road game, Wednesday night in New Jersey against the 8-6-1 Devils.