BUFFALO – The Habs capped off a hard-fought battle with the Sabres with their most decisive shootout win of the season.
Shootouts have been hard on the Habs this season – or more specifically, hard on Carey Price. Having not gotten much help from his shooters along the way, Price was often left with the slimmest of margins for error when squaring off against the opposition’s top snipers. Friday night in Buffalo, the shooters began paying him back for a season of effort.
“I think this did us a lot of good. We let another lead slip away tonight, and it was our line that was on the ice for that goal. We felt like Carey deserved better, so we wanted to get this one for him,” explained David Desharnais, who scored the shootout insurance marker, putting an end to the Sabres hopes of capping off their comeback.
“When it’s your turn up, it’s really just you and the goaltender. You represent your entire team at that point. You obviously don’t want to let your bench down,” continued Desharnais who, over the course of his 20:15 of ice-time also earned an assist on Tomas Kaberle’s first period goal. “You want to get the job done. We haven’t been able to do that as much as we would have like his season, but tonight we definitely did.”
For his part, Price helped buoy the confidence of his team by making the opening save against the Sabres’ Brad Boyes who went into Friday’s shootout as Buffalo’s weapon of choice lighting the lamp on five of seven previous attempts in 2011-12. Randy Cunneyworth then sent Max Pacioretty out to face Ryan Miller. The Canadiens’ top goal scorer didn’t disappoint, beating the star netminder with powerful shot, that despite looking like it had initially been saved, made its way through Miller nonetheless to find the back of the net.
“It’s been a part of our game that we’ve had a lot of trouble with this season. I felt like I wanted to go out there and take the opportunity to help Carey out. It was great that Davey scored too,” added Pacioretty, “I’m really happy for him.”
With two goals on two shost and two saves at the other end of the ice, Friday night’s shootout was a stark contrast to the one that took place two days earlier when the Bruins downed the Habs at the Bell Centre in identical fashion.
“These were points that we absolutely needed and it was good to be able to get them in a shootout. I think we really earned his win tonight and it’s nice to reap the fruits of our efforts,” dropped Randy Cunneyworth after coaching a first game with defenseman Hal Gill out of his lineup; traded to Nashville earlier in the day.
“Max’s goal definitely took some of the pressure off the rest of the players. You have to make the saves and you have to be able to score. Patches really forced that goal in. Miller partially made the save, but it’s a credit to just how hard the puck was shot that it went in anyways,” continued the Habs’ bench boss. “I felt like they had confidence tonight and I’m really happy for the guys. We haven’t been great in shootouts this season, and tonight’s was probably the most important one of the year.”Justin Fragapane is a writer for canadiens.comSEE ALSO:Boxscore: Canadiens-Sabres
Game highlightsSo long, Hal
All in the family