"We came out hard and the only negative in the game was that we gave them some momentum off their power play," said head coach Lindy Ruff, whose team tied a 21-year-old franchise record with its 49th win of the season. "Five-on-five, I thought we dominated the game."
"We realized the type of hockey that we need to play in order to be successful," said Daniel Briere. "At the same time, we had the chance to work on that and rest a little bit. We've been through a tough schedule for about five weeks."
Entering the contest, Montreal had won nine of their last 10 but fell behind after Buffalo scored on a pair of the team's 16 first period shots. Taylor Pyatt's shoulder level tip put the team up 1-0 less than three minutes into the game, while Tim Connolly's chip shot gave Buffalo the 2-0 lead entering the second. Connolly would finish the night with an assist to compliment his career-high 16th goal of the season.
"We wanted to come out hard and be really aggressive," Ruff said. "We played the type of game that we wanted to play by stressing the offensive zone play and spreading the ice out."
Briere turned Sheldon Souray inside out and then put Canadiens goaltender Cristobal Huet on his backside before netting his 25th of the season in the third.
"(Huet) stole one from me in the first period on a nice backdoor play from Max Afinogenov, so I didn't want to miss that one," said Briere. "I faked the shot to get him to go down and then went around him."
"It was a great goal at a tight time," said Ruff. "You don't see Souray getting beat like that too often."
One-on-one with the defenseman inside Buffalo's zone, the center stickhandled through the slot from the right wing, cut around Souray as if he was a pylon to the front of the net, faked a shot, and slipped the puck just inside the right post to increase Buffalo's lead to a pair with 18 minutes left in regulation.
"It was a key goal at a key time for us," added Ruff. "I think that you can see with Tim and Danny back in the lineup the creativity they bring to our team."
Receiving solid backup from Buffalo's blueline corps, which returned to full health with Teppo Numminen's return following a six-game absence, goaltender Ryan Miller
notched his 28th victory of the season with 27 saves. Souray broke Miller's bid for his first-career NHL shutout with the only goal of the second period.
"Ottawa was a good for me to talk to Lindy and (Sabres goaltending coach) Jim Corsi to figure out where I needed to make the first improvements on my game," said Miller of the team's 6-2 victory on Saturday night in which he made 32 saves. "I've been working on a few things and they suggested some stuff, so I was just trying to put it to use. Seemed to have good results."
Circling toward center ice at the left face-off dot, Pyatt tipped Henrik Tallinder's chest-high wristshot from the left point just inside the right post for his sixth goal of the season at 2:51 of the first.
With a minute and a half remaining in the period, Maxim Afinogenov threaded a pass from the right point through four Canadiens to the Toni Lydman at the bottom of the left face-off circle. Lydman held the puck until he was almost behind the net before dishing to Connolly for the one-timer at 18:26.
A quarter of Connolly's career-high 16 goals this season have come in the last three games.
Using Teppo Numminen as a screen, Souray brought Montreal to within a goal after beating Miller with a wristshot into the top right corner of the net from the left point at the 5:34 mark of the second.
Briere flanked Souray at 2:02 of the third for a 3-1 Sabres lead.
-------------------------------------------------------- SCORING REPORTS
| Super Stats
| Faceoff Comp
| Play By Play
| Shift Chart GAME BLOG:
1-0 (2:51): Circling toward center ice at the left face-off dot, Taylor Pyatt tipped Henrik Tallinder's chest-high wristshot from the left point just inside the right post. The goal is Pyatt's sixth goal of the season. Tallinder and Maxim Afinogenov get the helpers.
2-0 (18:26): Maxim Afinogenov threads a pass from the right point through four Canadiens to the Toni Lydman at the bottom of the left face-off circle. Lydman held the puck until he was almost behind the net before dishing it to Tim Connolly for the easy chip shot. The goal is Connolly's 16th of the season. Period 2
2-1 (5:34): Using Teppo Numminen as a screen, Sheldon Souray beat Miller with a wristshot into the top right corner of the net from the left point. The unassisted tally is Souray's 12th of the season.
3-1 (2:02): In a one-on-one with Sheldon Souray, Daniel Briere stickhandled through the slot around the defensemen, cut back to the front of the net and slipped the puck just inside the right post. The goal is his 25th of the season. Tim Connolly and Ryan Miller
get the helpers.