|BUF||0||0||0||(0 - 0)||0|
|MTL||1||1||1||(0 - 0)||3|
MONTREAL (AP) -The Montreal Canadiens gave Jaroslav Halak some breathing room this time as he bore down on his second shutout in two nights.
Halak recorded his second straight shutout, and Montreal got two key goals from unexpected sources in a 3-0 win over the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday night.
Halak stopped 29 shots for his fifth shutout of the season, and the Canadiens recorded consecutive blankings for the first time in four years. The Olympian from Slovakia, who has nine NHL shutouts, made 35 saves in a 1-0 win at Philadelphia on Friday.
"Last night we kind of slowed down, we gave them more chances, but tonight we kept playing and we kept our forecheck and our third man high, and I think that was the key," Halak said.
Montreal got out to a 2-0 lead on rare goals by Ryan O'Byrne and Tom Pyatt. O'Byrne scored his second career goal - his first in 100 games - in the first before Pyatt made it a two-goal lead with his second goal in 37 games in the second.
Sergei Kostitsyn scored in the third for the Canadiens, who are sixth in the Eastern Conference with 86 points and three games remaining. Montreal is two points ahead of No. 7 Boston, which has four games left.
"We played a really solid game," O'Byrne said. "I thought a really good positive was in nights past we've kind of had a tendency to sit back on our heels after taking the lead after the first or second. Tonight we came out in the third and played with poise and made plays and kept pushing."
Halak hasn't allowed a goal since Dainius Zubrus scored with 4:41 remaining in New Jersey's 4-2 win at Montreal last Saturday.
"He made no mistakes," Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said. "I think we could have made it tougher but you've got to give him a lot of credit, he played well. He was as good as he was (Friday)."
Ryan Miller made 35 saves for Buffalo, which lost its second in a row and missed an opportunity to clinch its first Northeast Division title in three years.
The Sabres, who have four games remaining, are third in the East with 96 points - five ahead of Ottawa. The Senators, second in the Northeast and fifth in the conference, lost at the New York Islanders on Saturday and have three games left.
"It's not just the number two seed, I think it's trying to get better going into the playoffs," Sabres left winger Paul Gaustad said. "That's our number one goal, trying to improve every game going into the playoffs. Right now, I think we've taken two steps back and we've got to get back on track."
Montreal caught a break on the play that led to the opening goal. The puck struck the netting above the glass in the right corner but the Sabres kept on playing - despite Canadiens center Dominic Moore pointing up.
"For the most part the refs are able to see it," said Buffalo's Jason Pominville, who lost sight of the puck after it deflected off his skate.
O'Byrne beat Miller moments later with a shot from the right point for his first goal since March 3, 2008.
"You've got to just play on - you can't just stop - so it's convenient after the fact to say it hit the net but I think both teams played on and I think it was a fair goal," Moore said.
Pyatt gave Montreal a 2-0 lead when he put a rebound of Maxim Lapierre's shot past Miller for his first goal in 17 games.
Travis Moen nearly made it a three-goal lead 3:02 into the third when his shot went off the right post before caroming off Miller's back and into the outside of the net.
Moen got an assist, and Moore added his second of the game on Kostitsyn's seventh goal at 6:37.
NOTES: Eight Canadian Olympic medalists were introduced to the crowd before the game, including Charles Hamelin, who won two short track speedskating golds in Vancouver. ... Cristobal Huet was the last Canadiens goalie to record consecutive shutouts on March 9-11, 2006. Huet was also the last Montreal goalie to post shutouts on consecutive days, Feb. 4-5, 2006.
|Ryan O'Byrne (1) Wrist shot - ASST: Dominic Moore (16), Sergei Kostitsyn (11)|
1 - 0 MTL
|Tom Pyatt (2) Wrist shot - ASST: Maxim Lapierre (7), Hal Gill (9)|
2 - 0 MTL
|Sergei Kostitsyn (7) Wrist shot - ASST: Travis Moen (11), Dominic Moore (17)|
3 - 0 MTL
|Craig Rivet Interference against Dominic Moore|
|Ryan O'Byrne Roughing against Derek Roy|
|Henrik Tallinder Delaying Game-Puck over glass|
|Marc-Andre Bergeron Roughing against Paul Gaustad|
|Adam Mair Cross checking against Andrei Kostitsyn|
|Tomas Plekanec Holding against Derek Roy|
|Jochen Hecht Slashing against Travis Moen|
|Maxim Lapierre Fighting (maj) against Steve Montador|
|Steve Montador Fighting (maj) against Maxim Lapierre|
|Paul Gaustad Roughing against Travis Moen|
|Paul Gaustad Unsportsmanlike conduct|
|Paul Gaustad Misconduct (10 min)|
|Travis Moen Roughing against Paul Gaustad|