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Drouin scores shootout winner in Canadiens debut to defeat Sabres

Price makes 43 saves, stops three Buffalo attempts in opener

by Joe Yerdon / NHL.com Correspondent

BUFFALO -- Jonathan Drouin saved his best for last in his debut for the Montreal Canadiens.

Drouin scored the only goal in the shootout to give the Canadiens a 3-2 win against the Buffalo Sabres in the season opener at KeyBank Center on Thursday.

Drouin was acquired from the Tampa Bay Lightning in a trade on June 15, and used previous experience against Sabres goalie Robin Lehner to secure the win.

 

[WATCH: All Canadiens vs. Sabres highlights]

 

"We had a lot of shootouts against Buffalo as a team for Tampa," Drouin said. "So I went low blocker a couple of times on him, but he stopped them so I think that's why he kind of bit on that fake shot and he's seen that low blocker (before)."

Carey Price made 43 saves and stopped all three Sabres in the shootout, including Sam Reinhart in the final round to secure the win. 

"He was obviously good tonight, there's no doubt when you face 45 shots and then you have to stand up in the shootout," Canadiens coach Claude Julien said. "There's no doubt he was our key player, but I can say the same thing about the other goaltender, he made some key saves for them too."

Drouin also had an assist on Max Pacioretty's goal that made it 1-1 at 17:56 of the first period. 

Montreal has won four straight season openers. Jason Pominville scored twice for Buffalo, which has lost five straight openers.

Pominville gave the Sabres a 1-0 lead at 8:30 of the first period with a power-play goal.

Video: MTL@BUF: Price denies Reinhart for shootout victory

Pominville received a pass from Seth Griffith and took a backhand shot that beat Price to the stick side for his first goal for Buffalo since March 21, 2013, against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Pominville was re-acquired in a trade from the Minnesota Wild on June 30.

"It's got to be great coming back," Sabres coach Phil Housley said. "Any time you can contribute coming back to your team, or you're a new player on a new team, it's great. You get a lot of confidence and I think especially him coming back, a home reunion. It's good to see him get a couple tonight and, hopefully, there's a lot more to come."

Pacioretty's goal came after Brendan Gallagher picked up a loose puck when Ryan O'Reilly fanned on a pass. Gallagher passed to Drouin, who found Pacioretty open in the face-off circle for a one-timer that beat Lehner, who made 38 saves.

Pominville made it 2-1 22 seconds into the second period. 

Philip Danault made it 2-2 with a shorthanded goal at 8:01 of the third. Danault picked up a loose puck behind the net and beat Lehner with a wraparound shot.

"It's a fast play," Lehner said. "I get there with my skate and he goes up on it and it hit my pad and goes in. It happens in a split second and it's frustrating. It's a lucky goal."

Video: MTL@BUF: Danault finds net on wraparound shot

 

Goal of the game

Drouin deked and beat Lehner with a backhand for the game-winner.

Video: MTL@BUF: Drouin nets sleek backhander in the shootout

 

Save of the game

Lehner slid to his right to make a pad save on Drouin to keep Buffalo ahead 1-0 with under 6:00 left in the first period.

Video: MTL@BUF: Lehner makes sliding save on Drouin's try

 

Highlight of the game

Eichel made a saucer pass across the zone to Pominville for his second goal.

Video: MTL@BUF: Pominville nets his second goal of the game

 

They said it

"We had a lot of chances, [Drouin] had a lot of chances. He was strong in his own end as well. It was a good start. There are some areas we want to get better. We did have a lot of chances to score and I think with chemistry we can bear down and be better with that. But you like it for Game 1, but never be satisfied and always looking to get better." -- Canadiens captain Max Pacioretty on Jonathan Drouin's debut

 

Video: MTL@BUF: Pacioretty scores five-hole on one-timer

 

"It was a pretty special moment from the reception to start. The first goal and the second goal, it was a special night. It would've been nice to hit the net there in the shootout and find a way to win the game." -- Sabres forward Jason Pominville

 

Need to know

Eichel, who signed an eight-year, $80 million contract extension Tuesday, had an assist and three shots on goal in 19:22. Lehner allowed one goal on two shots in the shootout. He went 0-for-8 against shooters last season… Canadiens defenseman Victor Mete made his NHL debut.

 

What's next

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

Sabres: At the New York Islanders on Saturday (7 p.m. ET; MSG+, MSG-B, NHL.TV)

 

Video: Drouin, Price lead Canadiens to shootout win

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