The second 40 years of NHL hockey in Buffalo began the same way the start first 40 years did -- with a loss to the Montreal Canadiens
Forty years to the day after the Sabres lost the first home game in franchise history to the Canadiens, they dropped their fourth home game in a row as Carey Price made 22 saves and Alexandre Picard and Josh Gorges scored to help Montreal to a 2-1 victory on Friday night.
Price, was rarely tested by a Buffalo team that was blanked 1-0 in overtime by New Jersey on Wednesday night.
"It makes my job a lot easier when guys can't get second and third whacks at pucks," said Price, who faced 48 shots in a 4-3 home overtime loss to Tampa Bay on Wednesday night. "Our guys played really well, and we played an excellent system game. I thought everybody battled hard and did their job. We talked about defensive play before the game, and the guys did a great job of taking that to heart."
For two periods, it looked like the present-day Canadiens might emulate the Habs of 40 years ago and blank the Sabres again -- they won that game 3-0 and led this one 2-0 through 40 minutes. Derek Roy got the Sabres on the board 3:26 into the third period, but Montreal stifled its Northeast Division rival the rest of the way. Buffalo's last shot on goal came with 3:48 left in regulation, and goalie Ryan Miller was unable to get to the bench for an extra attacker until less than 16 seconds remained.
"The last two games, I wasn't pleased with how we played away from the puck," Canadiens coach Jacques Martin said. "I didn't think we had the commitment, and our intensity needed to be better. Tonight we stayed out of the penalty box, rolled four lines, and I thought that was a big difference."
Miller made 26 saves for the Sabres, who have dropped four straight -- all at home -- since a season-opening win at Ottawa a week ago. They play six of the next seven on the road.
Before Roy's third-period goal -- his fifth of the season -- the Sabres hadn't scored since the third period of their 4-3 loss Monday to Chicago, a streak of 118:55.
"We had a couple of bad bounces and it seems like we've had bad bounces fall on us," Roy said. "We're getting outworked at home and that's unacceptable."
After a scoreless first period, Picard gave the Canadiens a 1-0 lead with his first of the season 1:29 into the second. After his slap shot from the left point was blocked by Patrick Kaleta, Picard collected the puck in the lower left circle and threw a pass to the front of the net that bounced off Buffalo defenseman Chris Butler's skate at the top of the crease and went past Miller. It was his first goal since last Dec. 18 at New Jersey.
Gorges' one-timer from the right point beat Miller on the glove side with 1:05 for a 2-0 lead. The goal ended Montreal's 0-for-11 start on the power play.
Sabres coach Lindy Ruff shortened his bench, sitting center Tim Connolly in the third period.
"I told the guys after the second period, guys were going to play who were going to compete," Ruff said, "The guys who were playing the best were going to play. I didn't care who it was."
Roy's goal wasn't enough to salvage the night.
"We didn't win battles early on," Ruff said. "We threw some pucks away and didn't compete enough."
Material from team media and wire services was used in this report