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game recap

Robin Lehner makes 31 saves, Sabres edge Canadiens

Rasmus Ristolainen, Tyler Ennis score in Buffalo's final home game

by Joe Yerdon / Correspondent

BUFFALO -- Robin Lehner made 31 saves to help the Buffalo Sabres win their final home game of the season, 2-1 against the Montreal Canadiens at KeyBank Center on Wednesday.

The loss ended a five-game winning streak for the Canadiens (46-25-9), who clinched first place in the Atlantic Division on Monday and will play the New York Rangers in the Eastern Conference First Round.

"We've done a pretty good job up to date of staying focused and trying to get better as a team, so sometimes you've got to give your team a pass," Montreal coach Claude Julien said. "Tonight wasn't a terrible game; it was just an ordinary game in our minds."


WATCH: All Canadiens vs. Sabres highlights


Rasmus Ristolainen and Tyler Ennis scored for the Sabres (33-35-12), who ended a three-game losing streak.

Ristolainen gave Buffalo a 1-0 lead at 6:01 of the first period. He received a pass from defenseman Josh Gorges and beat goalie Carey Price with a slap shot from above the right faceoff circle.

"Obviously, I like the result, but I also liked how we played the game and played for the 60 minutes," Sabres coach Dan Bylsma said. "I thought we played the way we had to play, we outcompeted them. They certainly had a couple opportunities, but I liked the way our guys played for 60 minutes."

Ennis made it 2-0 at 11:35 of the second period when he gathered the rebound of an Evander Kane shot from the left side of the net and scored from the slot to end a 23-game goal drought dating to Feb. 12.

"We played faster; I think we took it to them for a strong majority of the night," Ennis said. "That was a lot more fun than [the 4-2 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Monday], that's for sure."

Video: MTL@BUF: Ennis scores off quick turnover

Tomas Plekanec scored 46 seconds into the third period to get the Canadiens within 2-1.

Price made 28 saves. 

Montreal defenseman Alexei Emelin left the game late in the second period because of a lower-body injury. Julien said Emelin will be re-evaluated Thursday.

Buffalo forward Marcus Foligno left the game late in the second with a knee injury.

"He got a bruise to his knee," Bylsma said. "He played the rest of that period after getting the injury and he wasn't able to go for the rest of the game. I don't have any more than that."


Goal of the game

Plekanec deked and slid the puck around Lehner's left pad to score on the backhand for his 10th goal. Paul Byron skated the puck into the Sabres zone on the right wing before dropping a pass to Radulov, who quickly sent it across to the left hash marks for Plekanec.

Video: MTL@BUF: Plekanec sneaks backhand past Lehner


Saves of the game

Price made a left-pad save against O'Reilly from the slot at 1:13 of the second period after he denied Brian Gionta's shot from the right circle, also with his left pad.

Video: MTL@BUF: Price stops Gionta, O'Reilly in succession


Highlight of the game

Lehner scrambled to recover a shot by Dwight King off the post at 9:54 of the first period while the goal light was on erroneously. "I'm still not sure how that didn't find its way into the back of the net," Bylsma said.


Unsung performance of the game

O'Reilly, who was 9-for-15 (60.0 percent) on faceoffs, led Sabres forwards with 19:44 of ice time, including 1:25 during a third-period penalty kill.


They said it

"Our line had a lot of really, really good looks, got a little bit too cute, but felt really good about the chemistry and finding each other and forechecking. It's a nice time of year to have a good feeling like that and have that chemistry, so hopefully we can keep continuing with that." -- Canadiens captain Max Pacioretty


"You're disappointed any time you lose. We did some good things, but at the same time [Carey] Price had to make too many good saves, too many quality chances on the other side. We were getting a lot of shots, but there weren't many secondary shots around the net. Going forward, tightening it up a little bit and getting on the net and we'll have better success." -- Canadiens right wing Brendan Gallagher


"I think I've been feeling better and continuing to work to get my body to feel better each day. The confidence is coming back, and I could've had a few tonight. I'm a little upset that I didn't get more, but I'm happy with the effort tonight." -- Sabres forward Tyler Ennis, who has been limited to 49 games because of injuries and ended a 23-game goal drought


Need to know

Plekanec has scored 10 or more goals in 11 straight NHL seasons. … With his assist on Ristolainen's goal, Buffalo center Jack Eichel surpassed his point and assist totals from his rookie season in 22 fewer games. He has 33 assists and 57 points after he had 32 and 56 in 81 games last season. … The Sabres are 26-15-6 all-time in the final home game of the season.


What's next

Canadiens: Host the Tampa Bay Lightning on Friday (7:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SNE, RDS, NHL.TV)

Sabres: At the Florida Panthers on Saturday (7 p.m. ET; FS-F, MSG-B, NHL.TV)


Video: Lehner, Sabres stave off Canadiens for 2-1 win

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