MONTREAL (CP) – The Bob Gainey era in Montreal has now truly begun.
Sheldon Souray and Marcel Hossa each had a goal and an assist Saturday as the Montreal Canadiens beat the Buffalo Sabres 3-1 for their first win of the pre-season.
Gainey met with reporters after the game to defend oft-maligned defenceman Patrice Brisebois, who was booed every time he touched the puck after the midway point of the second period.
After scoring a goal in the third, Brisebois turned to the crowd and motioned with his hand for them to turn up the volume.
“We don’t need those people, we don’t want those people, they’re jealous people, yellow people,” Gainey said of the fans who booed Brisebois. “I think they’re a bunch of gutless bastards, to be honest.”
Brisebois has been a favourite of the Bell Centre boo birds for the last three seasons. His play over that time has been far from perfect, but it probably hasn’t been bad enough to justify that kind of a sustained reaction from the fans.
Though the booing of Brisebois has been going on for a long time, this is the first time a member of the Canadiens organization has spoken directly to the fans about it.
“Our message to them is to stay away,” Gainey said. “We don’t need you.”
A clearly frustrated Brisebois said he was happy someone was finally sticking up for him.
“I appreciate his support,” he said. “I’ve always said there are people who like me and appreciate me. I play for them, and my friends and family.”
Jose Theodore had a strong game in goal for the Canadiens (1-2-0-2), turning aside 23 of the 24 shots.
Ryan Miller was impressive in goal for Buffalo (1-1-0-1) in the first half of the game, stopping nine of 10 shots. Mathieu Biron took the loss.
Derek Roy, last year’s Memorial Cup MVP with the Kitchener Rangers, played a strong game at centre for Buffalo on a line with Taylor Pyatt and Jason Botterill, getting more than 15 minutes of ice time.
Sabres forward Jean-Pierre Dumont had to be helped off the ice in the third period after taking a cross-check behind the Canadiens net from Souray, who got a five-minute major and a game misconduct. Dumont was not injured on the play.
“I wish it hadn’t happened,” Souray said of the incident.
Gordie Dwyer, auditioning for the enforcer role with the Canadiens, took the worst of a fight with Andrew Peters in the first.
Montreal went ahead in the first when Souray found Hossa alone at the side of the net for his first of the pre-season at 13:32.
“He was very good tonight,” Canadiens coach Claude Julien said of Hossa, who formed Montreal’s best line with Richard Zednik and Mike Ribeiro. “He used his size and strength and puck protection to his advantage.”
The Canadiens entered the second intermission with the lead thanks to some fine goaltending from Theodore, bailing Montreal out after bad giveaways in the defensive end.
Buffalo tied the game less than a minute into the second when Brown tipped home a Henrik Tallinder point shot at 0:40 with Souray in the box for high-sticking.
Souray atoned for the penalty at 16:33 of the second when he wired a point shot through a crowd and past Biron to the glove side for his first of the pre-season.
Brisebois scored on a point shot with James Patrick in the box at 10:55 of the third.
Notes – The game was the second of four the Canadiens play in five nights. Montreal lost 2-1 in overtime to Boston on Friday in Manchester, N.H., and now travels to Toronto for a game Monday before playing in Minnesota on Tuesday . . . Canadiens prospect Chris Higgins didn’t dress for the first time this pre-season . . . It was the first time the Canadiens and Sabres met in the pre-season since Sept. 30, 1983. Buffalo won that game 7-4 in Montreal.