The Montreal Canadiens could not beat the Buffalo Sabres, plain and simple. The Sabres posted a dominant 5-0-1 record against the Canadiens this season, taking all three games at the Bell Centre.
Playing the Habs suited this Sabres team just fine, outscoring them 17-9 over the six game series and shutting them out in their final meeting of the year. These teams went into extra time three times, with Buffalo securing victory twice, once in overtime and once in a shootout, while the Canadiens claimed victory in 4-3 shootout win of their own.
Montreal opened the scoring in four of six games but went on to win none of these games, gaining two points in overtime and shootout losses.
The Sabres had 12 different goal scorers during the series, with Tyler Ennis finding the back of the net three times. Derek Roy was the Hab killer, scoring once and assisting on seven others while Ryan Miller went 4-0-1 in five starts, posting a .953 save percentage and 1.40 GAA. A total of 19 different Sabres registered at least a point throughout the six meetings.
Aside from the Cole-Desharnais-Pacioretty line, the Canadiens had no offensive output. Max Pacioretty was the only thorn in Buffalo’s side, scoring a pair of goals and assisting on four others. Erik Cole chipped in with two goals and two assists while David Desharnais scored one and assisted on three others. Carey Price was solid in goal, posting a .922 save percentage and a 2.40 GAA but could only muster one win, in a shootout, while losing four.
If there is anything positive to take from losing five out of six games to a division rival, it’s that all but one of these games close. Three went into extra time, two others were one goal games until the Sabres sank an empty net goal and one was a Ryan Miller shutout. The Canadiens did get on the board first four times but that translated into zero victories and two out of a possible eight points. You can’t help but think that a few minor tweaks and the score line goes the other way.
One thing is certain; no team can give up 11 out of 12 points to a divisional rival. Period.