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Sabres unable to solve Price in loss to Canadiens

by Jourdon LaBarber @jourdonlabarber /

MONTREAL - It took an overturned goal in the final minute, but the game between the Buffalo Sabres and Montreal Canadiens on Saturday night ended the same way it began: with chants of "Carey" raining down from the Bell Centre crowd.

The first such chant came when the Canadiens took the ice prior to puck drop, a "welcome back" from the Montreal fans to their Vezina Trophy winning goaltender. The final chant was in celebration of a shutout, after Carey Price stifled the Buffalo Sabres on a 36-shot night that resulted in a 3-0 loss.

Sabres coach Phil Housley said he saw almost everything he wanted to see from his team, with the exception of beating the goalie.

"He's the best goalie in the world," Sabres forward Sam Reinhart said. "There's always ways we can get to him. We can make things more difficult on him whether it's getting pucks quicker, our forwards getting to the net quicker, making it tough on him to see the puck.

"There's not too many times where you're going to beat him clean so there's definitely ways we can do better."

Video: BUF Recap: Sabres blanked by Price, Canadiens

Robin Lehner allowed three goals on 26 shots, all of which came on breaks for the Canadiens. Jeff Petry's power-play goal deflected in off the stick of Sabres defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen, Alex Galchenyuk scored off a rebound on a 2-on-1 rush and Paul Byron scored on a shorthanded breakaway.

The Sabres felt like they were still in the game up until Byron's goal, which made it 3-0 with 11:33 remaining in the third period. It was a turnover at the blue line that led to the Montreal defenseman going free for a breakaway, and he tucked a backhand shot between Lehner's pads.

"We totally had them in the third," Lehner said. "That was a bad break for us I think. It turned into a breakaway and I think I had him. I think I played him well. It went off my stick, I think I had my stick there five-hole too, but it managed to squeak in. 

"It's unfortunate, but I think the guys had a hell of an effort today."

Buffalo's focus coming into the contest was on replicating the effort that carried them to a victory over Edmonton on Friday night. To that end, the Sabres felt they did well. They generated 78 shot attempts as opposed to 42 for Montreal, a testament to the time they spent possessing the puck.

The difference between the teams was simply their ability to bury chances.

"We didn't work hard enough and bear down enough to beat [Price] and be able to score multiple goals in the game," forward Evander Kane said. "They capitalized on their few chances they had."

But even in spite of the result, Lehner and Housley both said they believed that the Sabres did in fact manage to build on their win over Edmonton. They didn't get the victory, but they further distanced themselves from the style of play that hampered them in a seven-game winless streak. 

"I thought the guys really dug down deep tonight," Housley said. "That was their sixth game in nine nights, they had every reason not to give it their best and put their best foot forward … I thought the last two games have been some of our best hockey. Tonight we didn't get rewarded. 

"I know the bottom line is winning. We ran into a hot goaltender who came back, made some terrific saves … You can say what you want to say, but if we continue to play this way moving forward we're going to get a lot more wins."


Josefson exits with injury

Jacob Josefson did not return to the bench with the Sabres to begin the second period and was ruled out for the game shortly after. Housley said that Josefson sustained a lower-body injury and will be reevaluated on Sunday.

Josefson had scored points in two straight games since returning from an ankle injury on Wednesday, including his first goal as a Sabre in the win over the Oilers. His previous injury sidelined him for 15 games from Oct. 15 to Nov. 22.  


Off the board

Kane appeared to have broken Price's shutout when he scored on a rebound with 32.5 seconds remaining, but the goal was called back when officials ruled that Reinhart, making contact with Price outside the crease, had committed goalie interference.

"I didn't notice anything on the play," Kane said. "No idea what they were reviewing. I saw the replay on the Jumbotron and I don't know if I need to go to the eye doctor but it looked like Sam was outside of the crease. 

"I don't have anything good to say about that decision, but like I said, maybe I'll go to the doctor and get my eyes checked out."

Reinhart said he was OK with the call, having had it called the same way against him earlier this season.

"It's twice now they've called it the same way, so I think I've got to learn from that," Reinhart said. "Whether I believe or not that it's my ice outside the crease just as much as him, they don't call it that way."


Up next

The Sabres will return home to host the Tampa Bay Lightning at KeyBank Center on Tuesday night. Coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. with GMC Gamenight on MSG-B, or you can listen live on WGR 550. Puck drop is scheduled for 7 p.m. 

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