The Buffalo Sabres dropped the opening game of the season for the second straight year to the Montreal Canadiens. The game was closer, but the result the same. While it was a disappointing night, not everything was bad for the Sabres.
Sabres opened the scoring on the power play with Jason Pominville scoring to spark the home crowd. After some good pressure from Seth Griffith, he stole the puck from the Habs defender and fed a nice pass across to Pominville.
Late in the period, Ryan O’Reilly would have what would end up to be a costly turnover at his defensive blue line. Jonathan Drouin would pick the puck up and get it to Max Pacioretty who would beat Lehner to tie the game.
The second period primarily belonged to the Sabres. Pominville scored his second of the game to put his team back in front. Jack Eichel had a beautiful look to find Pominville at the back door who made no mistake. The home team was unable to add to their lead and headed to the room ahead after 40 minutes.
In the third, the Canadiens brought the pressure. A pretty soft shorthanded goal from Phillip Danault on a wraparound tied the game at two in the middle of the last period. Montreal would keep the pressure on, but we headed to overtime after 60 minutes.
The two sides exchanged chances in an entertaining overtime, but nothing come through on either side. Onto the shootout, we went with Jacob Josefson and Paul Byron both failing to score in the first round. In round two Drouin put a nice move on Lehner to score while Pominville was stopped by Carey Price. Sam Reinhart was the last shooter for the Sabres and was also foiled by Price for a 3-2 Canadiens victory.
1. Can the Sabres win a season opener?
2. New and Improved Defense
Although they gave up 40 shots on the night, the defense did look improved and much more mobile. Nathan Beaulieu stood out playing top minutes with Rasmus Ristolainen. Marco Scandella didn’t show signs of any lingering from the offseason injury that held him out of the preseason. We’ll see how the defense progresses as they get more comfortable in Housley’s system.
3. Can Jack Eichel keep up?
Eichel only recorded an assist on the night. However, he was all over the ice and created a few chances on the night.