MONTREAL – The penalty killing units of the Buffalo Sabres saw a lot of action Tuesday night in Montreal. For the most part, they did their share to keep the Montreal Canadiens off the scoresheet.
However, the penalties eventually caught up to them and the Canadiens skated away with a 2-0 victory at Bell Centre.
Max Pacioretty opened the scoring with 9:07 remaining in the third period for the 100th goal of his career. Then Daniel Briere scored on the power-play with 3:06 left to make it a 2-0 game.
Before Briere’s goal, the Canadiens were 0-for-5 on the power play.
“Our penalty kill was good to a point but there’s only a certain amount of bad, bad penalties you can kill off,” Sabres interim coach Ted Nolan said.
With Cory Conacher in the box for high-sticking, Buffalo produced one of their best offensive chances of the night late in the third period. Cody Hodgson broke in over the line and maneuvered around defenseman Mike Weaver and put a backhand on net that Price turned aside.
However, seconds later, Briere scored to put the game out of reach.
Carey Price stopped 24 shots to earn the shutout.
Penalty trouble has cost the Sabres in recent games. With the season winding down, Nolan is looking for players to step up and make smarter decisions.
“It’s frustrating. The players that are here, maybe only have nine games, 10 games left with us because you can’t be taking those types of penalties and expect to stick around,” Nolan said.
Matt Hackett started for the Sabres, his second game with the team. Jhonas Enroth and Michal Neuvirth are out due to injury and Hackett has made the most of his opportunity in the NHL.
He stopped 33 shots against the Canadiens and left a positive impression on Nolan.
“The one thing about this whole season, particularly in this last stretch, the cream rises to the top. The guys who are really competitive and want to be part of turning this around are rising,” Nolan said. “Hackett is one of those guys. He’s played well in every game he’s played so far so he’s fighting for a job now.”
Hackett made 35 saves on Thursday when Buffalo defeated the Edmonton Oilers and looked more settled in the crease against the Canadiens.
“I try to be calm in there. I try to be positionally sound. I don’t make too many flashy saves,” Hackett said. “I try to be like Jim Corsi says, sticky. So I want to be sticky all the time and get hit in the chest most of the time. That’s what my goal is and that’s how I want to play.”
The penalty killers were busy throughout the game for Buffalo. They killed off a four-minute power play early in the second period when Matt D’Agostini was called for holding and was then given an extra two minutes for unsportsmanlike conduct. On that extended man advantage, the Canadiens were unable to register a shot on goal.
During that kill, Marcus Foligno blocked a shot by Brendan Gallagher and skated off to the bench in some discomfort. On his next shift, he was able to pin the puck along the wall in the Montreal zone to take some more time off the clock.
“They did a great job,” Hackett said of the penalty killers. “They have some good shooters up there, Subban and Markov. They did a hell of a job and I can’t thank them enough. They really helped me out.”
Buffalo’s five-game road trip concludes Thursday night when they face the Nashville Predators. Faceoff is scheduled for 8 p.m. EST.