MONTREAL – Luke Adam’s stay with the Buffalo Sabres just might be extended.
Adam scored two of Buffalo’s three second period goals as the Sabres edged the Montreal Canadiens 5-3 in NHL pre-season action Thursday night.
Adam, a native of St. John’s, N.L., was exuberant after what he felt was his best game of the pre-season.
“I felt really good out there,” he said. “I’ve just been trying to focus on the little things and hope big things come of that. It worked tonight.”
Adam spent a fair portion of last season in Montreal playing for the Juniors of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, something he felt helped ease his nerves before performing in front of a packed and often intimidating Bell Centre audience.
“Spending a year here in junior definitely helped me get comfortable and really helped me deal with playing in front of this crowd,” Adam said.
Adam had 90 points last season in the QMJHL and played for Canada in the World Junior Hockey Championships. Selected 44th overall by the Sabres in the 2008 entry draft, Adam is fighting for one of the few remaining spots on the Sabres’ forward lines.
The Sabres (3-1) scored three times with the man advantage, while the Canadiens power play failed to score for their third-straight game, bringing their pre-season total to a paltry 3-for-37.
“Special teams often dictate the outcome of the hockey game,” said Canadiens coach Jacques Martin.
Still, Martin was quick to caution against reading too deeply into pre-season trend.
“We have to be better, but at the same time we never had our two units competing against each other and that was our strength last year,” he said. “Once we get our people back I think that’ll help our performance on the power play.”
Tim Connolly, Thomas Vanek and Drew Schiestel added goals for the Sabres. Mathieu Darche, Ryan O’Byrne and Tom Pyatt scored for Montreal (3-3).
The Canadiens played a lackadaisical first period in which Alex Auld made 13-of-14 saves to keep the score close. The lone goal of the frame came off Vanek’s stick, converting on the power play by knocking home a rebound off Myers’ point blast.
The game turned against for Auld in the second as the Sabres put three goals past him in the first ten minutes.
Adam took advantage of a turnover by O’Byrne less than two minutes in.
Darche replied for the Canadiens just 14 seconds later with an unassisted marker of his own. O’Byrne made up for his costly error by knotting the score at 2-2, before the Sabres reopened their two-goal margin with Connolly’s power-play laser and Adam’s second of the night.
Schiestel snuck a weak shot past Auld to put the Sabres up 5-2. Pyatt made things interesting by scoring the Canadiens’ third goal of the night, but they were unable to complete the comeback.
The Canadiens are en route to Quebec City, where they’ll host the New York Islanders on Saturday to round out their exhibition schedule. The team will then depart for Charlevoix, Que., for a three-day retreat in preparation for their regular season opener in Toronto on Oct. 7.
The Sabres will play the Philadelphia Flyers twice this weekend before opening their season in Ottawa on Oct. 8.
Notes: Brian Gionta was introduced as the Canadiens 28th captain before the game, and was greeted with a raucous standing-ovation from the fans at the Bell Centre. . . Sabres captain Craig Rivet suffered a broken blood vessel in his throat on September 24th. Rivet resumed practising with his teammates Thursday and expects medical clearance in time for the Sabres season opener. . . The Sabres have 35 players remaining in camp, having cut fourteen on Wednesday. . . The Canadiens have 31 players left in camp, having cut five after Tuesday’s win over the Florida Panthers. . . Sidelined by a knee-injury before training camp got underway, Canadiens defenceman Roman Hamrlik will miss the team’s final pre-season game Saturday, but expects to be ready for the regular season.