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Tightening up

by Staff Writer / Montréal Canadiens
MONTREAL – Anyone expecting a high scoring, run-and-gun game against the Sabres hasn’t been paying attention.


Coming off an 8-1 win in Minnesota on Sunday night, the Habs were back to the tight defensive style that’s earned them their grasp on sixth place in the East on Tuesday night. Unfortunately for the Canadiens, that was exactly the same game plan Lindy Ruff was drawing up at the other end of the ice.

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“We’re playing a safe game and that’s what it’s going to be from here on out. The wheelin’ and dealin’ days are over,” promised veteran blue-liner Hal Gill. “Points are big for both teams and those are games we have to be better in, find ways to score goals and spend a little more time in the offensive zone.”

Not that the Habs didn’t get their chances, outshooting the Sabres by a 31-24 margin. With four shots of his own in the outing, Brian Gionta was more interested in the number of opportunities his team finished on Tuesday night.

“It hurts any team [shooting from the outside]. The key to scoring goals in this league with goalies being so good is you have to penetrate and get into those dirty areas,” explained the Habs captain. “We just didn’t get those second and third opportunities. They did a good job boxing us out. They’re a team that’s fighting for a playoff berth and they played well tonight. You have to give them credit. Unfortunately, for the first half of the game we just weren’t there.”


With all but one of the Canadiens’ four games against the Sabres heading into the tilt decided by just one goal – including a 10-round shootout finale in the most recent meeting on February 15 – no one was surprised to see the neutral zone become the busiest area on the ice on Tuesday night.

“You could see by all the other games we played against them, they were all tight games. That was exactly the type of game we were expecting,” offered netminder Carey Price, who took the loss despite allowing only one goal against in his 58:58 between the pipes. “[Ryan] Miller played great – he’s one of the elite goaltenders in this league and they just shut us down. We didn’t generate enough. We played pretty well defensively; they just had one more break than us.

“Our guys played well; I thought we deserved more than we got,” added the Habs netminder. “We just couldn’t quite get it in.”

Shauna Denis is a writer for canadiens.com.



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