I was all set to write a postmortem for another disappointing loss by the Buffalo Sabres and they changed my plans in the final minutes. I don't think any of us thought the Sabres were going to win this game after watching the first 57 minutes but a late power play goal and another with under a minute play made believers of us all.
The Sabres have made a habit of falling behind in the first minute and tonight was no different. A breakdown in the defensive zone allowed Andrei Kostitsyn to be left all alone for an easy goal just 41 seconds after the opening faceoff. The Canadiens immediately went into a defensive shell that obviously frustrated the Sabres.
There was very little room for the Sabres to work and they did an awful job of trying to create more room. They seemed content to take shots from the outside and were unwilling to go in the dirty spots of the ice (i.e. the front of the net).
That changed when they got a late power play and pulled the goalie. Buffalo finally put bodies in front of Price and and eventually a lucky bounce found its way onto the stick of Tim Connolly and he beat Price with just under two minutes left on the clock. Their persistence paid off again with less than a minute left and Steve Montador chipped a puck just inside the post to tie the game.
Connolly and Montador will be the players that get the glory for scoring the goals but Ryan Miller should get the most credit for this win. Miller made some very nice saves including some huge saves in the second period. There were probably five or six great opportunities for Montreal and none was better than Miller stopping Gionta on a shorthanded breakaway.
This should be a game the Sabres can build off of. Not only did they beat a team in their division but they did while trailing for 58 minutes of the game. There were plenty of negatives but the focus should be on the positive and a four game winning streak.
- The Sabres put themselves in a position to just about clinch the division with a win against their nemesis the Ottawa Senators on Friday at the HSBC Arena. It is not a must win for the Sabres but it would be great to win and set themselves apart from the Senators over the final two weeks.
- Henrik Tallinder was injured in the third period and held out the rest of the game. The Sabres will miss him greatly if he misses any time from the lineup. It looked like his stick was jammed into his chin wen he was checked in front of the Sabres bench.
- I am still concerned about how this team plays when they are trailing a hockey game. They were able to score a win tonight but they have struggled all season when they are behind on the scoreboard. Things will tighten up even more in the playoffs and getting an early lead will be key for this team heading forward.
- This was a nightmare finish for the Montreal Canadiens. Nobody can dispute this game meant a lot more to the Habs than it did to the Sabres and they will be thinking about this loss for a long time.
- I love the never say die mentality this team displayed tonight.
- In the end the penalties evened out but this had to be one of the worst officiated games in quite sometime. The Sabres were called for four consecutive penalties from the end of the first period and extending into the second frame. This would be fine but most of the calls were questionable at best. This hapened while obvious calls were let go. As the game continued it seemed the standard for a penalty diminished and both teams took advantage.
Harry Neale Quote of the Game