Sabres survive Habs in OT win
Monday, 03.12.2012 / 10:02 PM
It went longer than the Buffalo Sabres
would have preferred, but they picked up two huge points Monday night.
After David Desharnais
erased Buffalo's 2-1 lead with less than four seconds remaining in regulation, Tyler Myers
scored 2:01 into overtime to lift the Sabres to a 3-2 win against the Montreal Canadiens
at First Niagara Center.
"It was tough on the emotions giving that goal up with that amount of time," Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff said. "We didn't defend that situation very well. But to come back and go after it and not get on our heels ... I thought we answered the bell."
scored twice and Ryan Miller
made 26 saves as Buffalo earned its season-best fifth consecutive home win. The Sabres (33-29-8) also improved to 9-2-2 in their past 13 games and jumped ahead of Winnipeg into ninth place in the Eastern Conference, two points behind Washington in the race for the final playoff spot.
"Two months ago, I would say it would've been very tough with our group," Myers said, noting how the Sabres might have allowed frustration to settle in after Montreal tied the game. "But I think we've come a very long, long way. Those goals don't feel good. And the way we responded was a big sign of life with our group."
also scored for the Canadiens (27-32-11), who remain in last place in the East.
The decisive goal came on a 3-on-2 rush, with Derek Roy
driving up the left wing. He swung a pass across to Myers, who snapped a low shot just inside the far post.
Buffalo improved to 7-0-1 in its past eight against Northeast Division-rival Montreal. The only blemish was a 4-3 shootout loss in their previous meeting last month. That game prompted Sabres coach Lindy Ruff to say he was "embarrassed" following a sloppy effort that dropped Buffalo into a tie for last place in the East.
It was a frantic finish, with Desharnais scoring during a wild scramble in front. With several Sabres lying on the ice after blocking one shot after another, Cole threaded a pass through the crease, where Desharnais snapped it in from the lower left circle.
Ennis put the Sabres in front 1:50 into the third period courtesy of a fortunate bounce.
Driving up the right wing on a 2-on-1 break, Ennis attempted to sneak a pass through the middle to rookie Marcus Foligno
. Montreal defenseman Alexei Emelin
reached back with his stick in an attempt to block the pass, but instead redirected it into his own net, just inside the left post.
As Foligno joined Ennis to celebrate behind the net, Emelin looked up to the roof in frustration.
Ennis tied it 11 minutes into the second on a nifty individual play. Collecting Drew Stafford
's pass at the Habs' blue line on the fly, Ennis turned defenseman Andrei Markov
inside out before driving to the net. Faking a backhand shot, Ennis went forehand and beat Peter Budaj
"I think it shows we've got good character," Ennis said of the win. "It can be deflating when you let in a goal with a few seconds left. And we bounce back and score right away in overtime."
The Canadiens goalie was otherwise sharp, stopping 33 shots.
In the first period, he somehow got a piece of Thomas Vanek
's shot through a screen. Then, four minutes into the second period, Budaj thrust his glove up to snag Roy's blast that came on a 3-on-1 break.
Vanek was foiled again with 8:32 remaining, when he got in alone only to have Budaj get a piece of the shot with his right pad.
Despite being outshot 14-6 in the first period, the Canadiens scored the lone goal, capitalizing on a Sabres giveaway in the Buffalo zone 4:32 in. The puck squirted into the middle to Desharnais, who faked a shot before he made a slick pass to Cole, who blasted a shot inside the right post for his 26th of the season.
"I don't look at it as a step backward," Montreal interim coach Randy Cunneyworth said. "I was happy with the effort. I think under the circumstances, the guys gave everything they had."
Material from wire services and team media was used in this report.