Buffalo 5 – Montreal 4 (SO)
Thursday, February 7, 2013
First Niagara Center
With the Buffalo Sabres down by two goals in the third period, Thomas Vanek decided to take his teammates for another ride on his back. The NHL’s leading scorer continued his torrid start to the season with a pair of goals, including the game-tying marker with just two seconds left in regulation, as the Sabres rallied to defeat the Montreal Canadiens 5-4 in a shootout on Thursday at First Niagara Center. The loss broke a three-game losing streak for the Sabres, improving them to 4-6-1 on the season. With his two goals, Vanek continues to sit atop the NHL scoring race with a league-best 10 goals and 21 points in just 10 games.
The Sabres were down 4-3 with 22 seconds left in the third when head coach Lindy Ruff called a timeout. Marcus Foligno replaced Drew Stafford on the ensuing faceoff, and that move paid dividends immediately. Foligno drove hard behind the Montreal net before throwing it in front to Tyler Ennis. His initial shot was stopped, but Vanek was able to poke the rebound through Montreal netminder Peter Budaj while laying on his stomach with just 1.9 seconds left on the clock.
With overtime solving nothing, Vanek and Jason Pominville both scored in the shootout to preserve the victory. Ryan Miller made 28 saves to pick up the win, while stopping two of the three Montreal shootout attempts.
Tomas Plekanec had two goals on the night, with Brendan Gallagher and P.K. Subban also scoring for Montreal. Peter Budaj stopped 36 Buffalo shots in his second appearance of the season.
BEHIND THE NUMBERS
Thomas Vanek becomes the ninth player in Sabres history to reach 20 points in 10 or fewer games played… Vanek’s two-goal night gives him five multi-point games in his first 10 games played… Dating back to last season, Vanek has 32 points (12+20) in his last 20 games… The shootout win was Buffalo’s first since Mar. 10/12 at Ottawa, and their first at home since Feb. 24/12 vs. Boston… The Sabres are now 44-37 all-time in shootouts… Buffalo rallied from a two-goal deficit for the second time this season, following up the 7-4 win at Boston on Jan. 31… They also overcame a two-goal third-period deficit for the first time since a 6-5 OT win vs. Boston on Apr. 3/12… The first period goals by Tomas Plekanec and Steve Ott were scored 15 seconds apart, the quickest two goals in a Sabres game since Buffalo got goals from Derek Roy and Corey Tropp just :11 apart on Nov. 8/11 vs. Winnipeg… This was the second of five meetings between the Sabres and Canadiens this season; 255th game all-time between Buffalo and Montreal… The Sabres are 117-101-37 against the Canadiens… The Sabres have more wins against the Canadiens (117) than any other franchise; they have 115 against the Bruins… The teams next meet on Tuesday, March 19 in Buffalo… Buffalo improves to 3-2-1 against Northeast Division rivals this season.
Christian Ehrhoff returned to the lineup after missing Tuesday’s game with a muscle strain… Andrej Sekera missed his third straight game with a deep bone bruise on his foot… Adam Pardy and Matt Ellis were both healthy scratches… Robyn Regehr (lower body, 5 games), Ville Leino (hip, 11 games) and Patrick Kaleta (neck, 5 games) are all on IR… The anthems were performed by 8-year-old Baylee Morrison of Rochester.
BUFFALO’S REAL-TIME STATS LEADERS
Time on Ice: Christian Ehrhoff, 27:40
Shots: Thomas Vanek, 8
Blocked Shots: Weber/McCormick/Brennan, 2
Hits: Mike Weber, 3
Faceoff Wins: Tyler Ennis, 10
Total Faceoffs: Ennis, 18 (10-8)
BUFFALO’S RECORD WHEN...
Opponent scores first: 1-3-1
Tied after the first period: 2-3-1
Trailing after the second period: 1-4-1
Outshooting an opponent: 2-0-1
Buffalo was just one-for-seven on the power play, but Vanek’s first goal at 7:57 of the third snapped an 0-for-16 slump dating back four games. Vanek also scored Buffalo’s last PPG, on Jan. 31 at Boston. The Sabres are now at 16.3% (7/43) on the season. Buffalo killed off three-of-four Canadiens’ power plays, leaving them at 77.8% (35/45) through 11 games.
* Saturday @ NY Islanders, 7 p.m.
* Sunday vs. Boston, 7 p.m.
* Tuesday @ Ottawa, 7:30 p.m.