Game 50: Consecutive Wins?!

For the first time since November, the Sabres won consecutive games by beating the Canadiens, 3-1.  Buffalo dominated Montreal for most of the game, thanks to a great all-around effort from the team.

 

1st Period: The passing wasn’t exactly crisp early on for the Sabres. In fact, it was terrible and it resulted in broken plays and turnovers. Through the first six minutes, Buffalo had no scoring chances to speak of and minimal offensive zone time. The highlight of the period to that point for the Sabres was Myers leveling Pacioretty along the boards. He would get his revenge though. About five minutes into the period, Pacioretty won a battle with Matt Ellis at the point (and I lose the term won loosely since it looked like Ellis barely tried) and was in on a breakaway against Miller. He made the first save, but the rebound shot went in to give the Habs a 1-0 lead. Ellis was covering for a pinching Myers on the play. Buffalo had a great chance to tie the game about a minute later on rush with Vanek, Roy, and Pominville. The latter player beat Price, but cranked the shot off the pipe.

Just under the halfway point of the period, McCormick and Scott Gomez got into a bit of a scrum in front the Sabres’ bench and each got roughing penalties. During the 4-on-4, Vanek made a great individual effort to skate down the ice and work his way into the slot for a scoring chance. Unfortunately, his shot went off the post. After a few minutes of back-and-forth play, Weber got called for tripping, giving Montreal the first power play of the game. For the record, I thought the call was garbage. Erik Cole was already going down and Hal Gill had done a couple of similar plays that weren’t called earlier in the game. Anyways, the Sabres killed off the penalty and didn’t allow the Habs to do much of anything. With 13.7 seconds left, Stafford drew a hooking penalty at the Montreal blueline. Ennis also got hooked before the whistle blew to stop the play, but there was no call. God forbid the refs give the Sabres a two-minute 5-0n-3 in Montreal right? ¬†Not surprisingly, Buffalo didn’t score in that short time-frame, but they would have almost a full power play to work with to start the next period.

 

2nd Period: Vanek apparently sustained an upper-body injury in the first and wouldn’t play the rest of the game. The Sabres were very dangerous on their power play chance, moving the puck around quickly and accurately. The point shots were actually getting through too which caused havoc. They wouldn’t score on their chance, but it was nice to see them run a good power play. Ennis in particular looked great on it. Shortly after the power play ended, Ennis setup another chance in front, but Price made a great save to keep Buffalo off the scoreboard. Myers would deliver a big check to send the Sabres on a rush the other way and they would tie the game up on it. Leino took the pass from Gaustad and made a nice toe-drag move and beat Price on his glove-side with about 16 minutes left in the period. From there, the Sabres really started putting their foot on the gas and just started to take over the game. That pressure helped create a Montreal penalty that was taken by PK Subban to give Buffalo their 2nd power play chance. Once again, they looked great, but couldn’t score. Pominville had an open net to shoot at, but Alexei Emelin blocked his shot.

Speaking of Emelin, Ennis of all people took a run at him along the boards and knocked him down. Erik Cole almost gave Montreal the lead back on a shot that went off the cross-bar. About a couple minutes later, Ryan Miller made a great save on Cole after Myers missed on his attempt to hit him. Despite those chances, Buffalo was dominating Montreal for the vast majority of the period. The score would remain 1-1 going into the 3rd though.

 

3rd Period: The Sabres picked up where they left off in the 2nd. Stafford drew a tripping penalty about a minute into the period to give Buffalo yet another power play. Ehrhoff had a blooper-reel spill during the chance. Unlike the Sabres previous power plays, this one was a little more sporatic in terms of zone time and chances. The one thing they all still had in common was that no Buffalo goals came from those chances. Buffalo would finally get the lead, thanks to a great feed in front of the net by Boyes to Gaustad who had position in front with his stick on the ice to redirect the puck past Carey Price.

Through the first half of the period, Montreal just looked listless. The Sabres were skating them ragged in every zone on the ice. About a minute later, the Habs had their best shift of the period by far and forced Miller to make several spectacular saves to keep them from tying the game. Buffalo was still getting chances, but they were also getting sloppy, allowing Montreal to get some more chances of their own. Fortunately, none of them went in, thanks to Miller. Stafford had a really good opportunity for an insurance goal, but he was in a little too close on Price to be accurate enough to put the puck in the net. With time winding down, Montreal pulled their goalie for the extra attacker, but it wouldn’t work. Ehrhoff tried scoring from his own blueline and missed, but Kaleta followed the play up and scored from the right wing boards to seal the game at 3-1.

 

Quick-hit time:

-Buffalo took a very positive first step towards getting back into the playoff picture. There’s still a long way to go yet, but at least they started off their post All-Star slate of games the right way.

-Congrats to Ryan Miller for tying Dominik Hasek’s team record of 234 wins. Well-deserved. He was fantastic when he had to be.

-Tyler Ennis was a monster on the ice in his debut at center. He was creating plenty of chances and was pretty responsible in his own end of the ice. As if that wasn’t enough, he even had a big hit and went 8-for-15 at the dot tonight….not too shabby. I know that Montreal isn’t exactly a tough team to succeed against, but there’s at least a sliver of hope of the center position being solidified a little more.

-The other Tyler was playing with an edge tonight. I like mean Myers a lot better than the other Myers.

-Brad Boyes had his best game of the season.

-I think Leino’s had a few better games, but he was very good tonight as well.

-It was nice to see Drew Stafford moving his feet and putting himself in good positions to score. Even though he couldn’t finish, it was a step in the right direction.

-Can this team catch a break with injuries? Hopefully, this injury to Vanek isn’t too serious.

-Please move Ehrhoff to a pairing where he can play the right side Lindy.

-Montreal has no one upfront other than Pacioretty and Cole who can create offense. Their team owes Carey Price a beer and a steak dinner for keeping his team in the game.

Advertisements