One of the biggest NHL story lines of the past few months has been the downfall of the Montreal Canadiens. Tonight, the Buffalo Sabres helped pile on to that slump thanks to a 4-2 comeback victory over the slumping Habs.
The Sabres got their second half off to a good start thanks to an unlikely source - Marcus Foligno earned a promotion tonight to the second line and rewarded Dan Bylsma's decision with the opening goal of the game, putting a wrister from Zemgus Girgensons past Mike Condon for the 1-0 lead.
That lead would last until the second period, which was dominated by Montreal. While the shots were 10-9 in favor of the Sabres, the Habs opened the game up and had the Sabres hemmed in their own zone and on the back foot more often than not. Their pressure resulted in goals from Dale Weise on the power play and a beauty of a toe drag around Ryan O'Reilly from Alex Galchenyuk.
But the Sabres would not be deterred in the third. Jamie McGinn tied the game on the power paly thanks to a beautiful Rasmus Ristolainen pass right to his stick in the crease for an easy deflection. Four minutes later, Johan Larsson would score on a nice deflection of his own off of a Jake McCabe pass to the front for the 3-2 lead. Montreal had a bit of a flurry in the final two minutes that was saved by the facemask of Robin Lehner, but Brian Gionta would seal the 4-2 victory with an empty net goal.
The Sabres have now bookended the All Star Break with wins over division opponents, and will look to build on this success in a home-and-home coming up against Boston.
1. Will Sam Reinhart, Josh Gorges and Nic Deslauriers play well in their return?
While none of the three earned a point tonight, they were all noticeable in the own way on the ice. Deslauriers using his physicality, Gorges with some key shot blocks and a goal save in the second period, and Reinhart with his usual smart, quick Reinhart plays.
2. Can Eichel continue his point-per-game pace?
Yes he can, thanks to a third period secondary assist on Jamie McGinn's tying goal. That's 21 points in his last 19 games, for those of you keeping track.
3. Can the Sabres take advantage of a slumping Canadiens team?
The Canadiens arena was noticeably empty, and the Habs were roundly booed at the end of the game, so I'd say this answer is a yes.
Comment of the Game
And then Girgs & Foligno almost do it again
Yes, and he used the Marauder's Map to find his way to the front of the net.