The Buffalo Sabres won't get much closer to a loss without losing.
The Sabres trailed Montreal 2-0 with two minutes left in regulation, but got goals by Tim Connolly and Paul Gaustad to force overtime. Jason Pominville and Thomas Vanek then scored in regulation to give Buffalo a stunning 3-2 victory on Wednesday night.
Connolly scored a power-play goal with 1:59 left in regulation, igniting the HSBC Arena crowd. Gaustad then beat Carey Price off a scramble with 47.9 seconds left and goaltender Ryan Miller on the bench for an extra attacker, as he was for Connolly's goal.
"It was an ugly game but we'll take the two points," Vanek said after the Sabres' fourth win in a row and seventh in their last eight against the Canadiens. "We talked about getting pucks to the net and going hard to the net and capitalizing on some rebounds. It took 58 minutes to finally get one. I think we all know that we can be better, and we will be better."
The win moved the Sabres seven points ahead of second-place Ottawa in the Northeast Division. Buffalo also has two games in hand.
Through 58 minutes, the night belonged to Price, who finished with 40 saves in his first start in eight games.
Connolly scored with Buffalo enjoying a 6-on-4 advantage with Miller out for an extra attacker during a power play. Montador scored his fourth of the season in a scramble in front of Price.
"I'm not happy whatsoever," Price said. "Not one bit. We got to find a way to get that done. That's a point we need, and we need to find a way to do it. We played hard for 55 minutes and after that we just sat ... and let them come to us."
Miller made 26 saves through 65 minutes, then stopped Andrei Kostitsyn and Michael Cammalleri in the shootout. Pominville scored in the first round for the Sabres, and Vanek ended the game with a snap shot that zipped past Price.
"We got that one on the power play, and that was our hope right there," Miller said of Connolly's goal. "Then we got one 6-on-5 and then got the job done in the shootout."
Kostitsyn scored both goals for the Canadiens (36-30-8), who've lost three straight after a six-game winning streak.
Montreal paid the price for its inability to stay out of the penalty box. Buffalo had six consecutive power plays starting with less than seven minutes to go in the second period.
"Carey gave us a strong game, and you'd like to win that game, but the penalties made it difficult for us," Montreal coach Jacques Martin said. "What you've got to learn from that is the penalties cost us."
The Canadiens, 4-1-2 in their last seven on the road, received a boost with the return of leading scorer Cammalleri and defenseman Marc-Andre Bergeron from injuries. Bergeron assisted in Kostitsyn's second goal.
Kostitsyn scored 41 seconds into the game to give Montreal a 1-0 lead. He was unchecked to the right of Miller and tapped in Tomas Plekanec's pass.
Kostitsyn made it 2-0 4:57 into the second period with a power-play goal when he fired a wrister from the left circle that handcuffed Miller.
Material from team media and wire services was used in this report