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game recap

Brendan Gallagher helps Canadiens win opener

Shea Weber has assist against Sabres in debut for Montreal

by Joe Yerdon / Correspondent

BUFFALO -- The Montreal Canadiens started their season without goalie Carey Price, but Brendan Gallagher and Al Montoya helped make everything all right at KeyBank Center on Thursday.

Gallagher scored twice, and Montoya made 29 saves in a 4-1 win against the Buffalo Sabres.

Gallagher gave the Canadiens a 1-0 lead 8:43 into the first period when he took a wrist shot that beat Sabres goalie Robin Lehner low to his stick side. Gallagher received a pass from Canadiens captain Max Pacioretty and took his shot from the faceoff circle to the left of Lehner. The shot went to the far post and eluded Lehner to the bottom corner. Gallagher's shot was disguised by Sabres defenseman, and former Canadiens player, Josh Gorges.

Video: MTL@BUF: Gallagher fires wrister in off post

"I'll have to bug [Gorges] about that," Gallagher said. "I know how good he is blocking shots. It's not easy to get pucks by him. Fortunately I found a hole and it went in, but he's pretty good at getting in the way of pucks. It's nice to have to something to bug him about, I guess."

After Sabres left wing Matt Moulson made it 2-1 with a power-play goal 35 seconds into the third period, Gallagher made it 3-1 at 6:43 when he tipped a wrist shot from the blue line by defenseman Shea Weber past Lehner.

Weber made his Canadiens debut after he spent 11 seasons with the Nashville Predators. He was acquired from Nashville in a trade that sent defenseman P.K. Subban to the Predators.

"I thought [Weber] had a solid game," Montreal coach Michel Therrien said. "He was good offensively, put the puck on the net for the Gallagher goal, but I thought defensively he was really, really solid out there."

The Canadiens have won three straight season-opening games. The Sabres have lost four straight openers.

Montoya, who signed with the Canadiens as an unrestricted free agent on July 1, replaced Price, who has the flu.

"A bit of nerves coming in, and it's always sweet to play that first game for your team," Montoya said. "You just hope to give them a chance, and that's all my plan was. I wasn't trying to steal the game; I've got a good team in front of me."

Torrey Mitchell made it 2-0 3:21 into the second period when he poked a rebound of Paul Byron's shot between Lehner's legs. Andrew Shaw, another new Canadiens player, made it 4-1 with 8:24 left in the third period when he put a loose puck through Lehner's pads. Sabres coach Dan Bylsma challenged the call and claimed Lehner was interfered with, but after video review the call on the ice was upheld.

Video: MTL@BUF: Kane goes into boards hard, leaves game

Sabres left wing Evander Kane sustained an upper-body injury with 12 seconds left in the second period and was taken to the hospital for evaluation and precautionary measures. Kane fell into the end boards after he jostled with Canadiens defenseman Alexei Emelin and was down for several minutes before he was helped off the ice.

"I don't have [an update] further than he was sent to the hospital for further evaluation," Bylsma said. "Obviously, he went into the boards hard and you saw the discomfort and pain he was in. But there's really not more I can tell you other than that he's getting checked out at the hospital."


Goal of the game

Gallagher's second gave Montreal a 3-1 lead and Weber his first point as a member of the Canadiens.

Video: MTL@BUF: Gallagher redirects home his second goal


Save of the game

Kane had a shorthanded breakaway against Montoya 6:44 into the first period, but Montoya was able to make a blocker save on the wrist shot.

Video: MTL@BUF: Montoya denies Kane's breakaway in 1st


Unsung moment of the game

Canadiens left wing Arturri Lehkonen played 16:30 in his first NHL game and played 3:42 of that on the penalty kill, an uncommon situation for many rookies. "We tried him in the preseason and it's a good way to learn and he's smart enough to kill penalties," Therrien said. "He's in good positions, got a good stick, he's able to kill some plays, and I thought he did a good job out there."


Highlight of the game

Canadiens defenseman Mikhail Sergachev made his NHL debut at 18 years old. He was taken No. 9 at the 2016 NHL Draft in Buffalo and is the youngest defenseman in the NHL. "I could feel a few times he was pretty nervous, but for an 18-year-old defenseman I thought he did a good job," Therrien said.


They said it

"We did a lot of good things. I thought we had a really, really good start. We wanted to set the tone for that game and we did, but there's still things that we need to work on, and it's normal; it's really early in the season, but overall you've got to be satisfied with the win." -- Canadiens coach Michel Therrien


"The season's 82 games; that being said, you don't accept the loss. That's not our mentality, that's not the message we want to get across. I think the message we want to get across is, we've got to keep an even keel, find a happy medium. You play the same way whether you're winning or losing as far as streak-wise, but we've got to come ready to work tomorrow." -- Sabres defenseman Zach Bogosian


Need to know

Mitchell left the game with an upper-body injury with 11:42 left in the third period after a collision with Gorges. Therrien said Mitchell was cut on the play and should be fine. ...Sabres forward Tyler Ennis played his first game since Dec. 30. He missed most of last season after he sustained two concussions. ...Therrien said Price will not travel to meet the Canadiens in Ottawa, where they play the Senators on Saturday.


What's next

Sabres: At the Edmonton Oilers on Sunday (7 p.m. ET; NHLN, SN1, MSG-B, NHL.TV)

Canadiens: At the Ottawa Senators on Saturday (7 p.m. ET; TVA Sports, CITY, NHL.TV)


Video: Montoya, Gallagher propel Canadiens to 4-1 victory

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