Overreactions, 5th Edition: Sabres find two points in Montreal

At times they were atrocious. At times they were decent. Here and there, they were good.

In the end, the Sabres found two points at the Bell Centre and walked out with them.

In what can only be described as a lackluster effort, the Buffalo Sabres somehow pulled out a 3-1 win over Montreal on Tuesday night. Well, lackluster at least for everyone in uniform not wearing #30.

Ryan Miller was sensational for Buffalo, stopping 40 of 41 shots for his third win of the season.

Buffalo was manhandled for most of the opening half of this game. Not by Montreal simply being a better team, but by simply being terrible themselves. Defenseman Tyler Myers was credited with four giveaways on his own… in the first period.

“As a team we didn’t play well. We played ugly,” Vanek said. “You’ve got to give Montreal credit. They worked hard, they beat us to a lot of battles, a lot of pucks, and I think Ryan stole those two points. That’s the only way of putting it.”

After Montreal finally beat Miller on a goal by rookie Raphael Diaz, the Sabres remained near lifeless until Cody McCormick scrapped with Travis Moen of the Canadiens. Less than three minutes and a couple line shuffles later, Jordan Leopold buried a rebound in the slot to tie the game.

The difference was Buffalo capitalizing on mistakes made by Les Habitants. After Montreal iced the puck with less than six seconds remaining in the second period with the game knotted at 1-1, the Sabres made them pay. Paul Gaustad won the faceoff to Marc-Andre Gragnani, who knocked the puck back to Jason Pominville in time for him to make a quick pass to a wide open Thomas Vanek. With 2.8 seconds left in the period, Vanek sniped the top corner on Carey Price to give the Sabres an unexpected lead heading into the third.

Christian Ehrhoff added an empty netter in the final minute, his first goal as a Buffalo Sabre.

  • I can’t believe they won that game. And I say that in the way Bob Barker says “I can’t believe you’re a professional golfer” to Happy Gilmore. Incredible.
  • Props to Cody McCormick for donating his face to Travis Moen’s fist in an effort to turn the tide. It worked.
  • The goal at the end of the second period was absolutely beautiful. Every part of that was executed to perfection. The shot itself was perfect, right up in the top corner. That play belongs on both a highlight reel and an instructional video.
  • It’s been obvious that Tyler Ennis hasn’t had much of an impact before tonight. One of the best forwards down the stretch last season, he’s been largely ineffective offensively. The situation he was in, playing alongside Ville Leino, who has struggled, and Brad Boyes, who’s not been good at all, never helped his case. Tonight was the night Lindy finally made a move, putting him with Drew Stafford and Derek Roy around midway through the second period. The first shift I noticed the group together was the shift where Jordan Leopold scored. The next shift, the line was dominant as well. Ennis had a few chances in the third, including a breakaway where he was stopped on a backhand. Ennis can be the team’s most dynamic player if he’s put with some talent. Lindy needs to put him in the right situation.
  • The defense as a whole wasn’t very good. Tyler Myers wasn’t good at all. Robyn Regehr was decent. Christian Ehrhoff and Jordan Leopold scrambled at times. Marc-Andre Gragnani didn’t stand out much, and Andrej Sekera was alright. You wonder if that effort is enough to get Mike Weber a shot. I was convinced Weber would get in sometime on this Florida trip early in the game, but since they pulled out the win, who knows.
  • It’s blatantly obvious on the replay, but that penalty on Tyler Ennis in the second period was flat-out incorrect. The standard the league has accepted where a broken stick is the signal of a penalty being committed could’ve screwed the Sabres.
  • Good to see Patrick Kaleta running around like a heat-seeking missile again. He missed a few checks, but it was obvious the Canadiens were taking note. There was one dump-in in the third period that you could see the Habs defenseman notice Kaleta was coming in and slowing up to allow Pat to win the race and avoid the check. Whether he’s hitting or not, being a threat can make a difference.
  • Leino-board: 3-for-8 on draws, his best performance at the dot since the opener. He was a -1 in 9:40 of ice time. I think getting Jochen Hecht, when healthy, to take his spot in the middle and sliding Ville over to wing may be the best thing to happen to him.
  • Ryan Miller stole this game for the Sabres. Just need to restate that.
  • Drew Stafford was really good tonight, not just on the opening goal. Stafford’s PK work was solid, and he created some good chances. Was a beast down low. Good effort out of him tonight.
  • The powerplay, in the one opportunity they got, looked very bad. I described it as stagnant on twitter. They never got another chance, as the only other minor coming to Montreal was wiped out by Ehrhoff’s empty netter.
  • To the other end, the penalty kill was very good, going 5-for-5. A lot of the credit for that goes to Miller.

All in all, almost a reassuring night. The fact that they can win a game like this makes you wonder what this team can do.

The Sabres are in Sunrise, Florida on Thursday night to take on the Panthers.

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Posted on October 18, 2011, in Sabres/NHL and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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