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Sabres 4 Canadiens 3: Sabres Win Streak Reaches Four

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This was one of the more entertaining hockey games I have watched all season and with the full slate of games on Center Ice, that is saying a lot. Both teams battled from the opening whistle until the final whistle, even if they had no idea the game was over (more on this later). It was a back and forth game that had power play goals, shorthanded goals, a fight to start the second period and of course for Sabres was a 4-3 victory.

The Sabres were prepared to see a different Canadiens team than they seen on December 3 at the HSBC Arena. There was no way the Habs would be embarrassed a second time by the Sabres. The Sabres weathered the storm and actually controlled play at times, especially with the fourth line.

It was the Habs that earned the early lead however. A ridiculous penalty call to Craig Rivet gave the Habs a power play and they converted quickly to take the 1-0 lead. Maxim LaPierre was pushing Miller into the net with the puck under him and the refs singled Rivet out in the middle the ensuing skirmish.

The score remained scoreless beyond the half way point of the game and I'm sure that many unbelieving Sabres fans were yelling at their TV sets because of the Sabres lack of offense. Those people quickly became believers after the Sabres scored twice before the end of the second period to take a 2-1 lead. The Sabres second goal was another shorthanded goal by Patrick Kaleta, he now has two shorthanded goals and three total goals in the last two games.

Montreal tied the game early in the third period with another power play goal on another undeserving penalty. The Sabres were called for too many men on the ice, a call that prompted the Versus broadcast to call a home job. The teams traded goals before the Sabres eventually ended up with a two man advantage and Clarke MacArthur buried his 10th of the season. The Sabres had a late scare after Toni Lydman went to the box for high sticking with exactly two minutes left on the game clock. They survived the two minute power play because of an amazing save by Ryan Miller on Mike Cammalleri with 19 seconds left.

Game Notes
  • Once again the fourth line was outstanding. They controlled play and really forced the Canadiens back on their heals in their own end.
  • When did Patrick Kaleta become a goal scorer? He works hard so it is not surprising when he chips in a goal or two but he currently has six goals and his last two were shorthanded goals that are usually reserved for pure offensive players. On Saturday he roofed one over Henrik Lundqvist and tonight he beat Jaroslav Halak with a nice move and a backhander.
  • Ryan Miller was relatively quiet tonight, until mattered the most. Miller allowed three goals on the night and finished with 21 saves with his best coming in the final 19 seconds of the game. With the Habs on the power play, Cammalleri had a wonderful opportunity but Miller slid across the crease and robbed him blind. When was the last time Miller played a game that didn't have at least one memorable save?
  • It was an eventful game for the officiating crew. Maybe it is because of my blue and gold colored glasses but it was very one-sided as well. The Habs first goal came after Craig Rivet was singled out of a scrum after the whistle. The scrum occurred because Canadiens forward LaPierre was pushing Miller into the net while the puck was underneath him. The second call was a too many men on the Sabres that should have never been called. The call was so bad the Versus broadcaster said "that was a home barn call". They eventually got one right when the call never started near the end of the game and they ruled the game was over.
  • The officials make the calls but until the last two games it didn't matter. The Sabres penalty killing had been outstanding but they allowed two power play goals in the last two games. Both goals came because of defensive breakdowns from the Sabres. They need to get back to playing dominate penalty killing to continue winning.
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