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Kovalev sinks Sabres with OT goal

by Brian Hunter /
Given a power play in the first minute of overtime and a chance to win the game, the Montreal Canadiens were unable to capitalize. When they were given a second opportunity with the man advantage later in the extra period, Alex Kovalev made sure it didn't go by the board.

Kovalev's goal with 25 seconds remaining in sudden death lifted the Canadiens to a 4-3 win over the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday night, rewarding a Bell Centre crowd that had watched them overcome three separate one-goal deficits, including a pair in the third period.

"I'm trying not to do too much," said Kovalev, who scored for the third straight game after enduring a 19-game goal drought. "I came out this year and felt pretty good, so I felt like I could do a little bit extra. But it was time to go back and not try to do everything by yourself and use your partners a little bit."

Sergei Kostitsyn's second goal of the game with 4:54 left in regulation ensured Montreal of one point, and they picked up the second one when Kovalev beat Ryan Miller on a wrist shot from the right side after Jochen Hecht was called for holding 12 seconds earlier.

''Since the start of the year he's the guy who has created the most scoring chances, but he seemed to be hitting a crossbar, or hitting a defenseman or something like that,'' Montreal coach Guy Carbonneau said. ''We knew that once he got a goal he'd start to feel a little more relaxed, and that's what happened.''

Although they kept falling behind, the Canadiens rallied by continuing to throw pucks at Miller, who was coming off a 40-save shutout Friday against Los Angeles. They outshot the Sabres 46-34, including 6-2 in overtime.

Alex Tanguay also scored for Montreal and Jaroslav Halak finished with 31 saves in his sixth consecutive start. Robert Lang had the potential winning goal disallowed with 2:02 left in overtime after a video review concluded he had knocked the net of its moorings before his shot crossed the goal line.
''We were battling all night long and it paid off in the end,'' Halak said.

Miller turned aside 42 shots for Buffalo, which received goals from Derek Roy, Clarke MacArthur and Andrej Sekera. The Sabres have alternated losses and wins over their last five games following a three-game winning streak.

The Canadiens trailed 2-1 entering the third, but Tanguay drew them even at 3:26 with his 10th of the season. Sekera gave the Sabres a lead for the third and final time with a power-play goal with 6:40 remaining, when his wrister from the point beat Halak through traffic, but Kostitsyn answered moments later by converting Kovalev's feed across the crease.

"I'm trying to work hard and help the team to win," Kostitsyn said. "It's good, I scored two goals."

Roy, who has at least a point in nine straight games, opened the scoring with the only goal of the first period. The Sabres left wing drove the right side and cut to the slot before wristing a shot into the net at 9:10 for his 11th goal.

Kostitsyn made it 1-1 by converting a 5-on-3 situation 5:17 into the second, then MacArthur scored for the second time in two nights after a 17-game goal drought, putting Buffalo ahead with 4:39 left in the middle period.

"You've got to give them credit, they kept coming," MacArthur said. "I thought our goalie played really well for us and it's just too bad we got into penalty trouble. They've got a great power play and they showed it."

Material from wire services was used in this report.

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