BUFFALO, N.Y. – With the Montreal Canadiens attempting to mount a late-season playoff push, defenceman P.K. Subban didn’t have time to reflect on the team’s latest victory.
It’s a different story for the Buffalo Sabres, whose latest slump has coach Lindy Ruff feeling “embarrassed.”
Max Pacioretty and David Desharnais scored shootout goals, and Cary Price stopped both attempts he faced in the Canadiens’ 4-3 victory Friday night.
Bouncing back after an 0-1-1 skid, the Canadiens (24-25-10) jumped out of a logjam of three teams with 56 points and alone into 11th place in the Eastern Conference standings. Trouble was, they didn’t gain any ground on the two teams now immediately ahead of them—Winnipeg and Washington, who both won Friday night.
“We’ve got to continue to go here. We don’t have time to look at it and reflect,” Subban said. “We’ve got a long way to go.”
Subban was solid in playing a game-high 28:48 after the team traded veteran stalwart and assistant captain Hal Gill to Nashville earlier in the day.
Chris Campoli, Scott Gomez and Tomas Kaberle scored in regulation to help the Canadiens win their third straight road game and improve to 5-1-1 in their past seven overall.
Tyler Ennis, Tyler Myers and Robyn Regehr scored for Buffalo. The Sabres, 0-3-1 in their past four, at least salvaged a point after Ennis forced overtime by scoring with 8:05 left in the third period.
That still didn’t sit well with Ruff, after being reminded that the Sabres dropped into a tie for last place in the East with Carolina, after the Hurricanes beat San Jose earlier in the evening.
“Obviously, I’m very disappointed, embarrassed,” Ruff said. “We’ve dealt with a lot, but to be where we’re at is a big disappointment.”
And the Sabres are starting to hear about it from their restless fans. Early into the third period, one fan was overheard yelling, “Fire everybody!”
Despite being outshot 30-19 through overtime, the Canadiens pulled out the victory in the shootout.
After Price stopped Brad Boyes on the opening shootout chance, Pacioretty snapped a shot that dribbled in through goalie Ryan Miller’s legs.
Price then got his stick down to stop Jason Pominville’s attempt, which led to Desharnais sealing the win. Coming in from the left side, Desharnais drove across the front of the net, before stopping and jamming the puck in on the short side.
“Any way you win it, obviously, those are extra points that we desperately want and need,” Canadiens interim coach Randy Cunneyworth said. “I think we deserved it tonight. I’m happy for the boys. It’s good to get the reward.”
The Canadiens snapped a 0-3-3 skid against the Sabres, and bounced back after losing all three games this season to Buffalo in Montreal.
Blown leads and lack of discipline continued to haunt the Sabres.
A day after squandering a 2-0 first-period lead in a 7-2 loss at Philadelphia, Buffalo twice squandered one-goal first-period leads against Montreal. And the Sabres then fell behind when Campoli scored 11:28 into the second period.
Lack of discipline has also troubled Buffalo. The Canadiens’ first two goals both came at the end of power plays.
Kaberle converted Desharnais’ feed through the crease to tie the game at 1-1 a second after Buffalo’s Thomas Vanek finished serving a cross-checking penalty. Gomez then tied it at 2-2 with 14 seconds left in the period, a second before Nathan Gerbe’s hooking penalty expired.
Ruff wasn’t happy with either penalty, and sat both Vanek and Gerbe for extended stretches.
“Yeah it was a message,” Ruff acknowledged. “It’s an issue that has to be dealt with.”
The Canadiens got production from some unlikely scorers this season as Kaberle, Campoli and even Gomez—the high-priced player who has endured a season-long slump—each scored their second of the season. Gomez’s goal came four games after he scored the first of his season, and a few days after he was involved in a shouting match with assistant coach Randy Ladouceur in practice.
NOTES: In exchange for trading Gill to the Predators, Montreal acquired forward Blake Geoffrion, grandson of Canadiens great Bernie “Boom Boom” Geoffrion. Geoffrion was assigned to AHL Hamilton. … Myers played his 200th career game and, with his goal, registered his 100th career point. … Canadiens’ D Yannick Weber returned after missing four games with a lower body injury. … Sabres C Derek Roy had an assist on Myers’ goal, giving him 257 for his career to move into ninth on the team list, one ahead of Mike Ramsey.