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Flynn lifts Sabres past Canadiens in shootout

by Sean Farrell

MONTREAL -- The Buffalo Sabres are not playing like a last-place team, and the Montreal Canadiens are not playing like a first-place team.

Brian Flynn scored on Buffalo's fifth shootout attempt for a 4-3 win against Montreal at Bell Centre on Saturday to give the Sabres a sweep of back-to-back games against the Canadiens.

Flynn, who deked Montreal goalie Dustin Tokarski to score the only shootout goal, drew Buffalo even at 3-3 at 14:04 of the third period, 49 seconds after Max Pacioretty gave the Canadiens their first lead with his 11th goal at 13:15.

The Sabres, who are last in the Atlantic Division with 18 points, have won five of six games after a 3-13-2 start.

"The first 10 games or so, we're down one goal, we get down, and the game is over," Buffalo coach Ted Nolan said. "We didn't believe we could fight back and win them. And for the last couple of weeks or so, this group is really starting to come together. They're working, they're believing that no matter what the score is that they have a chance to win."

Jhonas Enroth made 41 saves for the Sabres, including a stop on P.K. Subban in overtime after the Canadiens defenseman put the puck between his legs to get around Buffalo defenseman Tyson Strachan.

Before Flynn scored, Enroth stopped Tomas Plekanec on Montreal's fifth shootout attempt after Alex Galchenyuk, David Desharnais, PA Parenteau and Lars Eller failed to score.

"I think [Enroth] capped it all off the way he played in that shootout," Nolan said. "I mean there was nothing there for all the shooters."

Forwards Zemgus Girgensons and Chris Stewart scored for Buffalo, which defeated Montreal 2-1 at home Friday.

Canadiens coach Michel Therrien gave full credit to Enroth, who stopped 71 of 75 shots in the two games.

"The way we played, we could have gathered four points this weekend," Therrien said. "We spent three-quarters of the game in their offensive zone and we couldn't capitalize on it."

Eller and Brendan Gallagher also scored for the Canadiens.

Montreal, which lost its third consecutive game (0-2-1), has 34 points and is tied for lead in the Atlantic Division with the Tampa Bay Lightning, who defeated the Ottawa Senators 4-1 on Saturday. The Lightning have played one fewer game.

"It's too bad that we weren't able to come away with a win on home ice," said Gallagher, who signed a six-year, $22.5 million contract extension prior to the game. "It's a little disappointing, but at the same time you've got to give them credit, they're playing well."

Tokarski made 23 saves in his first game at Bell Centre since last season's Stanley Cup Playoffs, when he helped Montreal to a 7-4 win against the New York Rangers in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Final on May 27.

"We feel like this is the second game in a row that we outshot and outchanced them, and had good opportunities, but at the end of the day, they come up with the win," Galchenyuk said. "It's frustrating, but we can't really do anything about it now and we've got to focus on our next game, and learn from our mistakes and take the positive things from these two games and move on."

Stewart put Buffalo ahead 2-1 at 5:56 of the third when he skated between Montreal defensemen Mike Weaver and Bryan Allen to snap a shot past Tokarski.

Eller drew Montreal even at 2-2 with his seventh goal at 7:31 of the third. He skated behind the net and spun around to make a backhand-centering pass that went into the net off the right skate of Sabres defenseman Nikita Zadorov.

Sabres captain Brian Gionta, who played in his 800th game, passed from behind the Montreal net to set up Flynn's tying goal.

"We battled hard," Gionta said. "At times we got away from our game but we stuck with it. We got the lead in the third, we gave it away and got behind and we still stuck with it, so I like the way our team's growing. You know, earlier in the year we might have folded, and we stuck with it and found a way to win."

Girgensons put Buffalo ahead 1-0 at 14:03 of the first period. Tokarski stopped Tyler Ennis' shot from the slot on a centering pass from Nicolas Deslauriers, and Girgensons chipped the rebound over the Montreal goalie for his seventh goal.

Gallagher scored his sixth at 7:51 of the second after a lengthy video review.

He took a shot from the slot that struck the right post, and play continued after referee Brad Meier signaled no-goal. The NHL Situation Room initiated a review at the next stoppage in play and replays showed the puck had completely crossed the goal line in the air after striking the post before it hit the knob of Enroth's stick and bounced out.

"I thought it was no way that was in, but like, you could see on the replay it was actually in," Enroth said. "I didn't even feel it on my stick when it first happened, so it's a great stuff that we have the goal cameras, I guess, and great job by the people in Toronto."

Gionta and injured Sabres defenseman Josh Gorges were each given warm ovations when the two former Canadiens were shown on the video scoreboard during the singing of "The Star-Spangled Banner."

Gionta and Canadiens defenseman Alexei Emelin tussled briefly in the first period. Emelin was fined $11,021.51 by the Department of Player Safety on Saturday for his illegal hit to the head of Gionta on Friday.

Enroth made several big saves in the second period. He slid across to make a right-pad save on Andrei Markov and stopped David Desharnais' shot and rebound attempt on a 2-on-1. After Gallagher's goal tied it, Enroth flashed his glove to stop a Desharnais shot at 9:04.

Sabres right wing Drew Stafford missed the game because of a lower-body injury he sustained Friday. Center Tim Schaller made his NHL debut after he was recalled from Rochester of the American Hockey League.

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