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Patrick Lalime makes 38 saves as Sabres beat Canadiens 5-1 @NHL

BUFFALO, N.Y. - Patrick Lalime stopped the first 36 shots he faced and benefited from Buffalo's best offensive output in three weeks, leading the Sabres to a 5-1 victory over the Montreal Canadiens on Wednesday night.

Derek Roy and Paul Gaustad scored goals two each, and Jaroslav Spacek had a goal and assist.

Thomas Vanek returned to the Sabres after missing nine games because of a broken jaw. Vanek didn't figure into the scoring, but his presence helped the Sabres score their most goals since a 6-5 win against San Jose on Feb. 13.

The five goals were two more than the Sabres managed in their past three games, and allowed them move into a tie with Carolina for ninth place in the tightly contested Eastern Conference standings in which six teams battling for the final four playoff spots are separated by four points.

Thomas Plekanec converted a rebound in front to spoil Lalime's shutout bid with 66 seconds remaining.

The fifth-place Canadiens had a four-game win streak snapped and continued to struggle on the road, falling to 2-10-1 in their past 13 games away from Montreal.

Lalime, starting in place of the injured Ryan Miller, was the star in earning his first win in seven starts, and first since a 4-2 victory at New Jersey on Dec. 13.

He was particularly solid in keeping the game scoreless through the first 13 minutes while the Sabres were being outshot 16-3.

He got his blocker out to stop Alex Kovalev, who got off a hard shot from the right circle following a Sabres turnover.

He also got help during a scramble in front six minutes in when Matt D'Agostini got two backhanders off from in close.

Lalime got his shoulder up to get a piece of the second shot, but the puck had enough momentum to get behind him and was rolling precariously across the crease before defenceman Toni Lydman swept it away.

The Sabres finally found their offence when Roy opened the scoring with 2:07 left in the first by taking advantage of a fortunate bounce.

Spacek's shot from the right circle bounced off a defender and in front, where Roy backhanded a shot in the open left side.

Roy, set up in front by Daniel Paille's blind pass from the corner, made it 2-0 early into the second period.

Spacek then scored midway through the period by jumping on a loose puck in the neutral zone and, bursting around flat-footed defenceman Patrice Brisebois at the blue line, blasted in a shot from the left circle.

Gaustad scored a power-play goal and short-handed goal 5 minutes apart in the third period.

Notes: Montreal recalled G Marc Denis from Hamilton of the AHL to fill in for Jaroslav Halak (flu), who is scheduled fly from Montreal and rejoin the team at Atlanta for its game on Friday night. ... The Sabres re-signed centre Tim Connolly to a two-year contract, preventing him from being a free agent this summer. ... Sabres RW Maxim Afinogenov had an assist in his first game since missing 24 with a groin injury.

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