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Sabres end 14-game losing streak, defeat Canadiens

by Sean Farrell /

MONTREAL -- The Buffalo Sabres avoided being mentioned in the same breath as one of the worst teams in NHL history, the 1930-31 Philadelphia Quakers.

Drew Stafford, Matt Moulson and Brian Gionta scored first-period goals, and Buffalo defeated the Montreal Canadiens 3-2 at Bell Centre on Tuesday to end a 14-game losing streak.

Jhonas Enroth made 32 saves for the Sabres (15-33-3), who won for the first time since Dec. 27. The losing streak was one game shy of the third-longest in League history, set by the Quakers from Nov. 29, 1930 to Jan. 8, 1931.

"We've got a lot of proud guys in this room, guys that had been on good teams, and it's one of those things that no one wants to be a part of and it's nice that we were able to get that one behind us," Gionta said.

The Quakers, Philadelphia's first NHL team, went 4-36-4 for a .136 winning percentage. Previously the Pittsburgh Pirates (1925-30), they folded after their only season in Philadelphia.

The NHL record of 17 consecutive losses was set by the expansion 1974-75 Washington Capitals and matched by the second-year San Jose Sharks in 1992-93.

"We had heard about it and we definitely didn't want to get that and we just tried to stay positive, and like I said [Monday], I think everyone in here believed that we can beat this team," Enroth said. "We had beaten this team twice before this year, so that was great to have that belief in our mind."

Buffalo went 3-0-1 against Montreal, including back-to-back wins Nov. 28 and 29. Enroth is 6-2-0 in 10 games against the Canadiens.

"For some reason we played well against them this year, and at this point it was more about getting the win and getting on the right track, but it definitely feels good," said Gionta, who as Montreal captain helped the Canadiens reach the 2014 Eastern Conference Final before signing with Buffalo as a free agent.

Brandon Prust and David Desharnais scored for Montreal (32-15-3), which has lost two in a row following a five-game winning streak that included 1-0 wins at the New York Rangers on Thursday and at the Washington Capitals on Saturday.

"There's peaks and valleys to the season," said Canadiens left wing Max Pacioretty, who assisted on Desharnais' goal at 4:20 of the third period. "I've kind of gotten to realize that's how it goes. You obviously want to work as hard as you can to dig yourselves out of it and dig the team out of it. As the years go on you realize these things happen, and the only way to get out of it is staying positive and working hard. We did that in the third; we have to do it from puck drop next game and do it for 60 minutes."

Stafford scored at 5:21 of the first period to end Carey Price's shutout streak at 158:24.

"He's one of the best goalies in the League for a reason, but kudos to our guys in here for coming out with a strong start and getting hard on the forecheck, which created a chance, which I was able to get a couple of whacks at it," Stafford said. "And more importantly, to get off to that good start, considering the amount of time we spent in our own zone later on, that was huge to break that streak."

Moulson ended a 16-game goal drought at 14:53 to make it 2-1. Gionta increased the lead to 3-1 with an unassisted goal with 41 seconds left in the first.

Price, who made 15 saves, rested Sunday when the Canadiens lost to the Arizona Coyotes 3-2. He had won his five previous starts and was named the NHL First Star of the Week on Monday after going 3-0-0 with two shutouts, an 0.66 goals-against average and .980 save percentage.

Moulson took a back pass from defenseman Nikita Zadorov and spun around into the slot to beat Price with a shot between his legs for his eighth goal, first since Dec. 15.

Gionta got credit for his fifth goal at 19:19 when his centering pass went in off Montreal defenseman Nathan Beaulieu's skate.

"I think we lost the game in the first period," Canadiens center Lars Eller said. "Yes, a bad bounce here and there, but overall it's small mistakes that could have been avoided with better communication a couple of times. Small things that us players know in between ourselves but maybe aren't visible from above. Fixable. Details. Important. Make a difference."

Price had allowed more than two goals once in his previous 16 starts, going 13-2-1 with a 1.43 GAA and .953 save percentage.

Desharnais got Montreal within 3-2 at 4:20 of the third period when the puck went in off his skate while he battled former teammate Josh Gorges for position on the edge of the crease. A video review upheld the on-ice ruling.

Prust knocked down Sabres defenseman Tyler Myers and off the puck in the neutral zone and passed to Desharnais to begin the play that led to Prust's fourth goal. Desharnais fed a return pass past Zadorov to Prust, who snapped a shot past Enroth from the inside edge of the right faceoff circle at 8:15 to tie it at 1-1.

Swedish forward Jacob De La Rose made his NHL debut for the Canadiens. He was on the ice for all four goals in the first period, when he had seven shifts and 3:38 of ice time.

"I had a tough start there, being on the ice for all the goals, both forward and in our own net," said De La Rose, who was recalled from Hamilton of the American Hockey League on Monday. "So it was a tough start, but I think after the first period I played better and our whole line played better too."

De La Rose, who played for Sweden at the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship, logged 12:34 of ice time.

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