BUFFALO – The Habs won’t have to wait long for their rematch against the Sabres.
When the Habs return home from Buffalo, they’ll already have their pre-scouting work done, having finished their Friday night game against the Sabres with just a few hours to prepare for the encore on Saturday at the Bell Centre. With the second half of the home-and-home series on tap, the Canadiens are choosing to look ahead rather than dwelling on what might have been.
“Right now, it’s hard, but I think you have to step back and realize we did a lot of good things as the game went on and we need to focus on that and just go out and win tomorrow,” suggested new Habs blue-liner Bryan Allen, who led the team with five hits against the Sabres. “Obviously we had a lot of time between games and there was a little hesitation early, but as the game went on, it got better. You can’t focus on one bad bounce. We had chances to win, but that’s the way hockey goes sometimes.”
With less than two minutes to go in the third period, it appeared the Canadiens would be heading to overtime for a seventh time this season after P-A Parenteau tied it up with a great second effort coming out of the intermission. An untimely penalty and an unlucky bounce off the glass later and the Habs were heading to the dressing room having suffered their first loss in regulation in a one-goal game in 2014-15.
“It’s tough, but we turn around and we go home and play them again tomorrow,” prescribed Max Pacioretty, whose team is set to square off against the same opponent in two different cities on back-to-back nights for the first time since 2010 when the Sabres come to town on Saturday. “It’s not the result we wanted, but I think there were some good things we can build off of. At the end of the day, that’s the way it goes sometimes and we have to do a better job of finding ways to score goals, not just tonight, but as of late. That could be the difference in the game.”
Looking to rediscover the scoring touch that saw the team rack up 24 goals during a six-game win streak earlier in November, the Habs will need to take a page from Parenteau’s book when it comes to opening the floodgates against the Sabres on Saturday night.
“I actually came down lower than I was supposed to, but I saw there was a scrum and went in. I sort of followed [Brendan] Gallagher’s approach on that and just threw myself into the net,” admitted Parenteau, who jammed home his sixth of the campaign to get the Habs on the board with the man advantage. “We saw in the third period that when we were playing the body and getting to loose pucks first, that’s when we were having success. We didn’t do that in the first period-and-a-half.”
The lone Hab to have hit double digits in goals this season with 10 in 24 games, Pacioretty – and the Sabres – know that sometimes all it takes is one lucky bounce and being in the right place at the right time to get things back on track.
“We have to be hungry around the net,” stressed the 26-year-old assistant captain. “There are a couple of things here and there that could have changed that game, but we’re not doing a good enough job getting on the board. There are lots of opportunities for second and third chances and it seemed like we were there, but maybe it’s just a matter of confidence and waiting for a couple of those to pop in. We just have to forget that one and stay focused on tomorrow.”
They’ll be able to get started on putting theory into practice quicker than usual, with puck drop at the Bell Centre scheduled for 7:00 p.m. on Saturday night. Shauna Denis is a writer for canadiens.com. SEE ALSOHighlightsIIHF WJC individual tickets on sale Nov. 29 A big addition The Montreal Canadiens mourn the passing of Gilles Tremblay Subban, Price sit atop leaderboard