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Finishing touches

by Staff Writer / Montréal Canadiens

BUFFALO – The Habs scored four goals, but it wasn’t enough to leave Buffalo with two points.

Buoyed by a pair of two-goal nights by Sven Andrighetto and Alex Galcheyuk, the Habs were able to light the lamp four times in Buffalo, marking the 29th time they’ve scored three or more goals in a game this season. That’s been a recipe for success for the Canadiens throughout the campaign, as the team had gone 24-2-2 when getting three or more in a game – and 16-0-0 when scoring four or more – prior to Friday’s game against the Sabres.

“We scored four goals. When we talk about our game plan, that’s exactly how we want to play,” confirmed Max Pacioretty, who picked up his 39th point of the campaign with an assist on Andrighetto’s opening marker. “That team played last night so we want to wear them down in the first two periods by making them skate and then try to take over in the third. Other than some mental lapses on their goals, I really thought we played a strong game and executed our system very well.”

Despite getting on the board early on Friday night, the Habs still skated into the first intermission down 2-1 to their hosts, before spotting the Sabres a 4-1 lead just over two minutes into the second frame.  That’s when Galchenyuk and Andrighetto got to work, with the former wiring two perfect one-timers past Chad Johnson on the power play and the latter picking off a pass from Johnson and depositing it in the back of the Sabres’ net.

“Sven is like a water bug,” described Pacioretty of his newest linemate. “He moves well. He can make plays and it was really nice playing with him. I feel like our line can do some good stuff if we keep playing like that. We definitely had a lot of opportunities to tie that game in the third and he was a big reason for that.”

Enjoying over 15 minutes of ice time in a game for just the second time this season – and the first in regulation time – Andrighetto made a case to cement his spot to the right of the veteran duo. With three shots, two hits, and his first-career multi-point night, the 22-year-old winger had no problem finding chemistry alongside his captain and the playmaking center.

“It was my first game with them and I think it started off well,” understated the rookie winger after earning third-star honors for his efforts. “I tried to bring my speed in for these two guys and they make it pretty easy to play with them. We had lots of chances to score a couple more goals and win the game. At the end in the last period, we had a couple of bounces that didn’t go our way. If they go in, we win the game.”

Buzzing throughout the final 20 minutes, with two shots ringing off the post and a handful of rebounds popping out just beyond their reach, the Habs came close to picking up the tying marker in the dying minutes of Friday’s game. Not willing to look for silver linings or moral victories, Galchenyuk admits the loss to the Sabres is a tough one to swallow, but he’s planning to carry the momentum from the final 20 minutes in Buffalo into Monday’s game in Arizona.

“At the end of the day, at this time of the year, when you lose there’s nothing positive – especially when you’re in the position we’re in. We know we can play better, especially with the way we played in the third. If we play three periods like that, there’s no way other teams can beat us,” stressed Galchenyuk, who celebrated his 22nd birthday on Friday by registering his fifth-career multi-goal night.  

“We were losing by three goals at one point and we almost came back. You sit back and think about how if we had won this game, the kind of buildup that would have been for us. But we lost the game and we have to move on,” he added. “There’s still hope, there’s still a chance, we still believe in ourselves, and now we have to go out and prove it.”

Shauna Denis is a writer for canadiens.com

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