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Sabres win opener in a shootout

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 Game #1

Buffalo Sabres 2 vs. Montreal Canadiens 1-SO


As expected the Sabres came out flying in the first period but it was Montreal that converted first taking advantage of a Sabres miscue.  The Sabres had an opportunity to get the puck out and didn't, Robert Lang was all alone in front and beat Miller into the top of the net.  Tom Kostopolous flipped a backhand pass to Lang, he waited for Miller to go down and easily lifted the puck into the net.  It was a typical goal allowed by Miller while being down on his knees.  It took less than five minutes for the Sabres to tie the game on an amazing individual effort by Thomas Vanek.  Vanek had a teammate on a 2-on-1 but elected to keep the puck, forcing both the defenseman and Montreal goalie Carey Price to be out of position, and easily sliding it into the net.

There were plenty of chances for both teams throughout the next two periods, including a four minute power play for the Sabres, but neither team could convert.   The Canadiens had two or three golden opportunities in the final 10 seconds of overtime but the Sabres hung on and forced the shootout.  There is almost never a doubt when the puck is on the stick of Ales Kotalik in the shootout and tonight was no different as he beat Price with a backhand shot.  Drew Stafford scored the other goal in the shootout in a mirror image of the goal scored by Kotalik.  Miller seemed like the old Ryan Miller in the shootout and stopped both Robert Lang and Saku Koivu.

Special Teams

It certainly wasn't a banner night for the power play of either team.  The Sabres finished 0-for-6 on the power play but they held the high-powered Montreal power play off the board in five attempts.  I was especially impressed with the Sabres penalty kill that often had possesion of the puck while Montreal had the man-advantage.

What I liked

  • The Sabres were the better team for most of the game...outshooting the Habs in the first and third period.
  • The penalty kill was outstanding tonight killing off all five attempts for the Habs.
  • The line of Afinogenov-Mair-Kotalik had a lot of energy and had some good scoring chances.
  • Daniel Paille is a beast!
  • Ryan Miller rebounded nicely after allowing a goal early in the game, making plenty of nice saves.
  • Winning in the shootout.

Three Stars

  1. Thomas Vanek
  2. Ryan Miller
  3. Carey Price

Roll Call

D.O., BeastMode, qdloser, FrankD, Brian Galliford and HO...I won't count myself because I type comments just to hear myself talk so the winner is BeastMode with 23 comments.