Carey Price continues to show Montreal Canadiens brass that it was the right move to keep him around.
Price made 34 saves and came within 73 seconds of his fourth shutout in his last nine starts as the Habs skated away with a 3-1 win against the Buffalo Sabres at the Bell Centre on Saturday night.
Rested for just the second time this season on Friday (a 3-0 loss at Atlanta), Price came within 1:13 of another shutout before Jordan Leopold spoiled it.
"We played pretty hard tonight," Price said. "We all wanted to bounce back from (Friday) night's game and I thought everybody came out with the right mentality and played hard the whole game."
Brian Gionta had a pair of goals and an assist and Andrei Kostitsyn had a goal and an assist for the Canadiens, who won for the seventh time in their last 10 games.
Gionta set up Kostitsyn's goal during a two-man advantage in the first, then added goals 4:20 apart in the second to help the Canadiens rebound from Friday's loss. Tomas Plekanec also contributed with a pair of assists.
"I thought it was a much better effort ... we couldn't really get much going against Atlanta," Gionta said. "Right from the start, we were jumping and we made things happen."
Ryan Miller stopped 30 shots for Buffalo, which beat Toronto 3-1 in Friday but has lost four of six.
"The opportunities were there," Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said. "You can't stand here and talk about it any more, though. Some of those have got to turn. I mean, Price has been on his game, he played well, but we did have a couple that I thought, 'If we hit the right spot, we're going to score."'
The Canadiens took advantage of a lengthy 5-on-3 opportunity in the first to open the scoring. Sabres defenseman Andrej Sekera put the puck over the glass at 12:32, just 22 seconds after Steve Montador was called for hooking. Kostitsyn went to his backhand to put away a rebound of Gionta's shot from the left edge of the crease for his ninth goal at 13:41.
"We talk about not taking penalties on a nightly basis, especially in here, where they kind of thrive on that," Miller said. "We got off on the wrong foot."
Kostitsyn got his second point when he and Gionta went in on a 2-on-1 in the second. Gionta worked a give-and-go with Kostitsyn and put a shot past Miller off the return pass to make it 2-0 12:26 into the middle period. Plekanec, who assisted on Kostitsyn's goal, set up Gionta's second goal of the period at 16:46.
"Like I've said all along getting the chances, getting the opportunities is the big thing," Gionta said. "They'll find their way in eventually."
Senators 3, Maple Leafs 0 | HIGHLIGHTS
Mike Fisher scored twice and Brian Elliott made 29 saves for his second shutout of the season as Ottawa beat Toronto at Scotiabank Place.
The line of Fisher, Alex Kovalev and Milan Michalek accounted for all the scoring, with Kovalev scoring the other goal and adding 2 assists and Michalek finishing with 2 assists.
The Senators (11-12-1) ended a two-game losing streak, as Elliott made his first start in four games.
"Not a lot of Grade-A scoring chances ... we did a great job," Elliott said. "It was huge. Playing the Leafs at home, it's always a good atmosphere. Hopefully we can keep it going."
Jonas Gustavsson made 25 saves for Toronto, which has lost three of its last four.
"I don't know if I'd call it frustrating, but it's tough for all of us," Gustavsson said. "We had some scoring opportunities, but the puck wasn't bouncing for us. We just have to keep working the same way, try to improve myself and the other guys will do their part."
Kovalev opened the scoring late in the first period, collecting a rebound and scoring on the game's first power-play opportunity.
"It's nice to see those guys score goals," center Jason Spezza said. "They've had a lot of chances lately and it's nice to see them get rewarded."
Fisher made it 2-0 at 12:51 of the second, waiting for Gustavsson to commit before slipping a backhander past the goalie. With a minute left in the period, scored on a 2-on-1 break.
Fisher's goals we're just his second and third in the past 12 games and his first points in four games.
"When you're coming out of little slumps and you have one good (game) where you're almost feeling it and the next game you're right there, that's what happened," Fisher said.
Panthers 4, Lightning 3 (SO) | HIGHLIGHTS
Stephen Weiss scored in the fourth round of a shootout as Florida edged Tampa Bay at the St. Pete Times Forum.
Radek Dvorak scored on a penalty shot, and Dmitry Kulikov and Shawn Matthias also scored in regulation for the Panthers, who stopped a three-game losing streak. Florida went 0-for-4 on the power play and has failed to score in 37 straight opportunities.
"We needed that, probably, more than they did," Florida coach Peter DeBoer said. "We played some tight games this week and managed to find a way to lose them, so it was an important two points for us. I think the guys wanted to make sure that we worked for 60 minutes to get an opportunity to win the game."
Teddy Purcell, Dana Tyrell and Sean Bergenheim scored for Tampa Bay.
Both teams were coming off shutout losses Friday. Tampa Bay was beaten 6-0 in Washington, while the Panthers were blanked 3-0 at home by the New York Rangers.
"I thought our effort was there," Tampa Bay forward Martin St. Louis said. "We gave them a couple of their goals. We didn't make it hard enough for them to get their goals."
Panthers goalie Tomas Vokoun made 34 saves and stopped all four Tampa Bay attempts in the shootout, while Dan Ellis stopped 24 shots for the Lightning.
Florida went up 3-2 on Matthias' goal at 8:31 of third, but Bergenheim pulled the Lightning even with backhand rebound goal with 6:45 left.
"I thought we played really well for 60 minutes, as did they," Weiss said. "We competed back and forth all night."
Purcell put the Lightning up 1-0 with a power-play goal from the low slot off a pass from Steven Stamkos at 10:21 of the first. Stamkos has 18 assists and 39 points this season.
Tyrell made it 2-0 on a rebound goal with 9:48 left in the second.
Dvorak got the Panthers to 2-1 on a shorthanded penalty-shot goal at 12:22 of the second that ended Florida's goal drought at 130 minutes, 8 seconds. The Lightning have allowed six shorthanded goals this season.
"That turned the game around, obviously," Tampa Bay coach Guy Boucher said.
Kulikov tied at 2 from the low right circle 3:08 into the third. He stopped a personal stretch of not scoring a goal in 65 straight games, dating exactly one year to Nov. 27, 2009, against Toronto.
"It's tough when you give up a lead like that," Ellis said. "We've got to bear down and close that game."
Stars 2, Blues 1 | HIGHLIGHTS
Kari Lehtonen made 35 saves and Jamie Benn scored another big goal as Dallas completed a home-and-home sweep by beating St. Louis at the Scottrade Center.
The Stars rallied in the third period for the second straight night, beating Jaroslav Halak on two of their first five shots. Benn tied it and Loui Eriksson scored on a power play for the lead at 5:05.
B.J. Crombeen scored late in the second period for the Blues, who became the last NHL team to lose in regulation at home. St. Louis has 17 points in its first 10 home games, going 8-1-1.
Benn has five goals in 19 games, including a shorthanded breakaway Friday in Dallas' 3-2 win.
"You don't want to have to do that all the time, and certainly we don't want to make a habit of it. But it's nice to know that you can," Stars coach Marc Crawford said of the back-to-back third-period comebacks. "I don't think it's a huge surprise that the Blues started with such a fury."
Crombeen scored his first goal in 10 games late in the second period for the Blues, who outshot Dallas 36-23. But the Stars blanked the top line of David Backes, Andy McDonald and Brad Boyes, which had totaled 28 points the previous eight games. Halak started in goal for the second straight night and had 21 saves.
The Stars have won three in a row overall and evened their road record at 5-5-0.
The lone Blues goal came after Lehtonen's apparent save on a drive by Patrik Berglund. The puck slowly trickled between the goalie's pads and Crombeen swept in for an easy tap-in at 18:49 of the second. It also was his first goal against the franchise that waived him in November 2008.
"I tried during the intermission to kind of get my things together, and I made some good saves," Lehtonen said. "I try to remember those things rather than the goal. It was nice that I didn't touch the puck before we scored those two goals."
The Blues had a whopping 13-4 shots advantage in the first, although their best chance came on one that didn't count when Chris Porter's backhander from the side of the net slid through the crease.
"It's a tough one to lose whether we've lost all eight at home," rookie defenseman Alex Pietrangelo said. "It's a tough one to give away, especially going through the same thing last night."
Rangers 2, Predators 1 (SO) | HIGHLIGHTS
Erik Christensen scored the only goal in a shootout to give the weary Rangers a gritty victory at Nashville.
After losing in Tampa Bay on Wednesday, the Rangers -- who were playing without Marian Gaborik due to the flu -- shut out Florida on Friday and beat Nashville to close their three-game, four-day trip. The Predators have lost four straight, two in shootouts.
"We talked about it in our (pregame) meeting that if we want to get to where we want to be at the end of the year, this is the kind of game -- last of a road trip, coming off a big win, played a lot of games in this stretch here -- we have to find a way to win," said coach John Tortorella, whose team played with just 11 forwards because Marian Gaborik was out with the flu. "These are the points at the end of the year that kill you if you don’t get them. It was a good gut check for us in getting points that we needed to get."
Ryan Callahan scored for New York in regulation, and Colin Wilson connected for Nashville.
Wilson took advantage of a turnover by Rangers defenseman Dan Girardi inside the New York blue line, and beat goalie Henrik Lundqvist with a wrist shot high to the glove side just 5:10 into the game.
The goal was Wilson's third of this season, but first since Oct. 24, a span of 13 games. He has a goal in each of his two career games against the Rangers.
Callahan tied it at 13:04 of the third period. After a long shift inside the Nashville zone, his wrist shot from the slot tucked just inside the right post for his seventh goal of the season.
After Christensen scored on the first attempt in the shootout, Lundqvist stopped all three Predators shootout attempts for his first win of the season in the tiebreaker.
"We fell behind early, but we didn’t stop working," Christensen said. "I thought we took over for stretches of the game."
Nashville has just five regulation goals in its last five games.
"We need more chances than that to score," captain Shea Weber said. "We need to close games out by getting two or three goals when we can and getting that lead, making it easier on ourselves when it comes to later in the game."
Avalanche 7, Wild 4 | HIGHLIGHTS
Greg Mauldin, a recent minor-league callup, scored twice and set up two other goals as the Avalanche overwhelmed the Wild.
For NHL.com's complete story, click here.
Sharks 4, Oilers 3 | HIGHLIGHTS
San Jose bounced back from a blowout loss at Vancouver on Friday as Dany Heatley scored twice and added an assist to help the Sharks hold off the Oilers.
For NHL.com's complete story, click here.
Material from wire services and team media was used in this report.