Janne Niinimaa was proven wrong last night by Ryan Miller and the Buffalo Sabres who remained undefeated and improved their record to 9-0. Niinimaa guaranteed that his Canadiens would put an end to the Sabres streak but he and his teammates were unable to back up his words.
The Sabres opened the scoring shortly before the 10 minute mark of the first period on what appeared to be an innocent shot from rookie Jiri Novotny. Teppo Numminen sent a one touch pass to Novotny, Novotny launched a wrist shot from just inside the blue line that handcuffed Cristobal Huet and proceeded to bounce into the net in a Tommy Salo esque manner.
However it was the second goal which was the backbreaker for the Canadiens. Sabres defenseman Brian Campbell was in the penalty box for hooking and just three seconds into that power play Sheldon Souray rung the crossbar with a slap shot that Sabres goalie Ryan Miller never saw. Less than a minute later Andrei Markov tried to carry the puck over the Sabres blue line but his attempt was blocked by Chris Drury. Drury turned the puck up ice on a two on one with Jochen Hecht; Drury decided to shoot and scored his tenth goal of the season. Cristobal Huet was positioned poorly and was unable to stop Drury’s wrist shot.
A little more than 2 minutes later Jason Pominville deflected Daniel Briere’s wrist shot past Huet who was once again caught deep in his crease. The Sabres held the three goal lead for almost twenty minutes.
Miller’s shutout was broken nine minutes into the third period after a slopping give away by Sabres defenseman Toni Lydman. Mike Johnson slap shot was deflected into the top corner by Henrik Tallinder.
The Sabres would go on to add an empty net goal when Thomas Vanek exited the penalty box only to receive a crisp pass from Dmitri Kalinin in the neutral zone.
Game Notes. Maxim Lapierre who was recalled earlier in the day incase Radek Bonk was unable to play sat in the press box. Ryan Miller is still undefeated against the Canadiens in his young career.
Chris Drury- Scored the game wining goal and added an assist, he now has 14 points this season.
Ryan Miller- Came up with some big saves early to keep the Sabres in the game.
Henrik Tallinder- played almost twenty minutes and had a +2 rating.
The Sabres are one of only two teams in the NHL with winning records against the Canadiens. The other is the Florida Panthers.
Saku Koivu had a +/- rating of -3. Koivu has not seen his stat column that bad since February 14th of 2004.
The Sabres are one win away from matching an NHL record of beginning the season with 10 consecutive wins set by the 93-94 Toronto Maple Leafs. The Sabres head to Long Island for Thursday night where they will attempt to tie the record.