MONTREAL – Costly penalties came back to bite the Montreal Canadiens once again.
Clarke MacArthur’s power play goal in the third period was the winner as the streaking Buffalo Sabres survived a furious comeback attempt by the Canadiens to finally prevail 4-3 on Monday night.
The Canadiens lost in overtime on Saturday night in Atlanta when Glen Metropolit took a high-sticking penalty in the offensive zone at 19:20 of the third period, opening the door for Ilya Kovalchuk to end it in overtime.
This time, the Canadiens had just tied the game for the second time in the third period when Metropolit again found himself in the box, and he was quickly followed there by Ryan O’Byrne. MacArthur capitalized for the winner just over a minute later as the Canadiens allowed a regulation time power play goal for the first time in eight games.
“They have good players on that team and they took advantage of it,” said Habs defenceman Hal Gill, who played nearly six minutes on the penalty kill. “We have to kill those penalties, but on the other hand it’s easier to kill them when you’re not taking them.”
Montreal took seven minor penalties in the game to give the Canadiens 170 on the season, second most in the league after Philadelphia’s 172.
“It’s very, very upsetting that we did it again tonight,” said Habs winger Mike Cammalleri. “It’s obviously not the refs when you do it six or eight games in a row. We can’t have it.”
Andrej Sekera, Patrick Kaleta and Tim Kennedy also scored for the Northeast Division-leading Sabres (20-9-2), who won their fourth straight and their eighth in 10 games.
Andrei Kostitsyn had two goals and an assist and Cammalleri also scored for the Canadiens (15-16-3), who are winless in three games following a three-game winning streak.
Kostitsyn, who had two goals in his first 26 games this season, now had six goals and two assists in his last five contests.
“”He’s shooting the puck exceptionally,” Cammalleri said of his linemate. “When he gets going and starts playing, he’s such a load.”
Ryan Miller allowed three goals for only the second time in his last 11 starts, but still made 21 stops to improve his record to 19-6-2. His biggest save came with only 19 seconds to play in regulation with Buffalo down a man, as he slid across to rob Cammalleri on a one-timer attempt to save the victory.
“I was just glad to get in the way,” Miller said. “He probably missed it just a bit, probably wanted to go a little higher. He put it back into me just a little bit, but I was happy to get there in time to make a difference.”
What followed had the potential for controversy, as the scoreboard clock did not start after the ensuing faceoff. At the next stoppage in play with a little over seven seconds on the scoreboard clock and a faceoff to come, the referees indicated the game was over.
“We had a little bit of panic going because we watched five or six seconds tick off before (the clock) even started,” said Sabres head coach Lindy Ruff. “That would have been a heck of an ordeal to sort out if a goal went in. Needless to say we ended up winning the game and that ended up being irrelevant.”
Jaroslav Halak made 23 stops in the Montreal net, losing for the second straight time to Buffalo. He allowed 10 goals in those two losses.
The Montreal power play went 2-for-4 on the night and is now 7-for-16 over the last five games. But it couldn’t take advantage of a Toni Lydman penalty at 18:00 of the third to tie it up.
With the Sabres up 2-1 after two periods, Montreal tied it at 2:36 of the third with Kostitsyn’s second of the game and eighth of the year, 10 seconds after the Sabres were called for too many men on the ice.
Miller in particular was irate after the call, and he feels it cost him when Kostitsyn took a pass in front and tipped it through his legs.
“I probably got too mad about it, probably cost myself some concentration and cost us a goal,” Miller said. “I can’t be doing that stuff.”
The Sabres grabbed the lead again 3-2 at 12:33 when Kennedy had the puck bounce out to him after a scramble in front of Halak and buried his fourth of the season.
But the Canadiens didn’t wait long to tie it back up, with Cammalleri picking the top corner from the right faceoff dot at 12:51 for his 18th of the season.
“The one thing you really hate as a team to give up a goal right after you score, and we did that,” Ruff said. “But we stayed grounded after that and went back to work.”
After Montreal took its two penalties, Drew Stafford found MacArthur alone at the far post for his 10th of the season at 14:41 of the third to make it 4-3 Buffalo.
Montreal went ahead 1-0 with a power play goal at 16:03 of the first when Kostitsyn wired a one-timer past Miller.
Buffalo tied it at 12:58 of the second on Sekera’s second of the year just as a penalty to Josh Gorges had expired.
With Montreal on the power play late in the second Kaleta outskated Cammalleri to create a 2-on-1, taking a perfect feed from Tim Connolly and beating Halak with a deke to the backhand for his sixth of the season at 19:01 to make it 2-1 Buffalo. It was Kaleta’s second shorthanded goal in as many games.
“He worked hard to get up ice,” Ruff said. “It wasn’t an easy goal, but it turned into a real pretty goal.”
Notes: Habs D Paul Mara missed his fourth game with a shoulder injury, while D Andrei Markov (ankle) and winger Brian Gionta (foot) were also outaSabres winger Paul Gaustad missed his ninth game with a leg injury and D Chris Butler missed his sixth with an ankle injuryaThe Canadiens 1-0 lead at the first intermission was only the 11th time they led after one period in 34 games