The Canadiens exacted a little revenge last night at the HSBC centre in Buffalo a place where the Habs have struggled in recent visits. Prior to last nights win the Canadiens had only won once in their past seven visits to Buffalo in those seven games only once have the Canadiens scored more than a single goal. Last night the Canadiens mustered up to score more then once and surprise, surprise the final result was a victory.
The Sabres opened the scoring last night while Saku Koivu was serving a holding penalty shortly after the halfway point of the first period. The goal was a result of a shot from defenseman Brian Campbell who the Sabres must consider a Canadiens killer with two goals and six assists against the Canadiens in six games this season. Campbell’s shot caused Cristobal Huet to leave a juicy rebound in the slot for Jochen Hecht to hammer home into the gapping cage.
The Sabres held the lead until five minutes into the second period, just after Jay McKee exited the penalty box Francis Bouillon fired a extremely long pass to Mike Ribero inside the Sabres zone, Steve Begin drew the defender to the net leaving a streaking Kovalev to wire a shot top corner on Ryan Miller to even the score. With time winding down in the second period Tomas Plekanec received a holding penalty sending the Canadiens to the penalty kill for the third time. After the Sabres failed to keep the puck in the Canadiens zone in the early stages of the power play Campbell slid a cross ice pass to Jason Pominville who was immediately stick checked by Steve Begin who stole the puck from him and broke in on Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller. Miller slid out of the net to successfully poke check Begin but flying in behind was Radek Bonk who lifted the puck over the sprawling goalie for only his second goal of the year.
After a solid defensive effort through forty minutes which saw the Canadiens hold the Sabres to only fifteen shots the final third of regulation was marched to a different beat, which saw many a break down in the Canadiens team defence. But thanks to some spectacular stops from Huet as well as an incredible back check from Jan Bulis and some excellent stick checking from Andrei Markov and Sheldon Souray the Sabres were held goal less on their first twelve shots of the period. Unfortunately with less than thirty seconds remaining in the third stanza Saku Koivu cleanly lost a draw to Chris Drury The puck found its way to Ales Kotalik who one timed a slap shot towards Cristobal Huet, which Jason Pominville deflected into the net redeeming himself of his error on the Power Play late in the second period.
So for the third straight time, these two teams would head to over time dead locked at two. This time however the Canadiens finished victorious. Mike Ribero slid a pass along the boards to Kovalev who quickly moved it right back to Andrei Markov who danced away from a defender and slid the puck right back to Kovalev who riffled a shot past a sliding Ryan Miller.
All in all a respectable road game for the Canadiens, which saw Alex Kovalev dominate on the ice providing room and confidence for his prodigy Alexander Perezhogin. Niklas Sundstrom found his way back into the line-up with Richard Zednik at home with the flu but played a minimal role and not receiving even one shift on the penalty kill forces one to believe his time in Montreal will expire shortly. Mike Komisarek remained paired with Andrei Markov and looks more and more confident with each passing shift and the defensive pairing of Bouillon and Dandenault has amassed a +/- rating of +11, not bad for the third pair.
In six meetings this year the Sabres have scored two power play goals three times. In all three of those games the Sabres amassed three goals and eventually won. On the other hand, the other three timesthe Sabres and Canadiens have met the, Sabres were held to a single power play goal and the Canadiens scored three times in each of those games, and you guessed it the Canadiens won all three.