Thomas Vanek continued his awesome start to the season, scoring with less than 2 seconds left in the 3rd period to force overtime and scored in the shootout to lead the Sabres to a 5-4 Shootout win over the Montreal Canadiens at the First Niagara Center. Vanek also had a power-play goal earlier in the game.
It would not be a great start for the Sabres as Montreal would get on the board first. Rene Bourque fed Tomas Plekanec and he beat goaltender Ryan Miller on a snapshot to go up 1-0 in the first period. (Alexei Emelin assist) The Sabres would respond very quickly, 15 seconds in fact. Jochen Hecht won a battle to get the puck who fed Steve Ott and beat Peter Budaj to make it 1-1. The Sabres had a strong forecheck in the 1st period as they rattled off 10 shots.
The 2nd period has not been kind to the Sabres this season. The team leads the NHL with most goals allowed in the 2nd frame with 20. Montreal would strike first in the 2nd period. Brandon Prust passed to Brendon Gallagher who was all alone in the slot. (Raphael Diaz) Tyler Myers, who has struggled all season, seemed to have screened Miller on the goal. Again, the Sabres were quick to respond to a Canadiens goal. Marcus Foligno poked the puck ahead to a speeding Tyler Ennis. With his great speed, Ennis was able to beat out the defender and beat Budaj, 2-2.
Montreal would have the last laugh of the period. Penalties to Cody Hodgson and Steve Ott gave the Canadiens a 5-3 power-play. The Canadiens had great puck movement and the Sabres couldn’t clear the puck. P.K Subban sniped a one-timer shot from Andrei Markov to give Montreal a 3-2 lead. (Max Pacioretty)
The Sabres would not start the 3rd period off well. Plekanec would beat Miller for his 2nd goal of the game 45 seconds into the frame to extend the lead 4-2. (Brian Gionta, Bourque) Miller got a piece of the puck but it flipped into the back of the net.
A Ryan White roughing penalty allowed the Sabres to go on the power-play. Christian Ehrhoff took a shot from the point with a lot of traffic in front of the net. Foligno, Ennis, and Vanek all wacked at it. Vanek finally picked up the loose puck and beat Budaj backhand to trail Montreal 4-3. In the closing seconds of the 3rd period, the Sabres pulled Miller. The Sabres brought up the puck and fired it onto the net. With a mad scramble, several Sabres players were battling to score. Finally, Vanek, on the ground, slipped the puck past Budaj to tie the game with 1.9 seconds left, sending the fans into a frenzy. (Ott, Ennis) “We found a way to get it in” said Vanek
In the shootout, both Vanek and Jason Pominville would beat Budaj and Miller only let in a goal to rookie Alex Galchenyuk to secure the victory. More importantly, it ended a 3 game losing streak and the Sabres earned a much needed 2 points in the standings.
Thomas Vanek extended his lead in goals (10) and points (21) with his 2-goal performance.
Vanek was one of 4 Sabres to have a multi-point night. Vanek (2g-0a), Ott (1g-1a), Ennis (1g-2a) and Foligno (0g-2a)
Peter Budaj made his first start since Jan 30th @ Ottawa Senators and made 36 saves
Since coming back to the Canadiens, P.K. Subban has 2 goals and 2 assists in 4 games.
Robyn Regehr and Andrej Sekera both sat out with injuries. Both could play this weekend.
Christian Ehrhoff continues to be a work-horse for the Sabres, playing 27:40 of ice-time.
The Sabres will travel downstate to play the New York Islanders on Saturday, 7:00 p.m. start.