November 4, 2005
by Brian Wheeler
Buffalo played a solid first 40 minutes but allowed two goals in the final period of play to fall 3-2 to the Montreal Canadiens in front of 18, 690 fans in HSBC Arena on Friday night. The game marked the first time all season that the Sabres have relinquished a lead in the third.
"We didn't show a lot of composure in the third," said Sabres head coach Lindy Ruff following the game. "There was desperation, but it was uncontrolled desperation."
The Sabres were twice caught during line changes and failed to clear the puck from their zone against a fresh Montreal line.
Three of the Sabres eight penalties also came in the deciding period.
"I'm upset and should be," said Ruff. "We didn't win the battles in the third period that allows us to win the game.
"That's flat out what it was. We played a strong, all-around game for 40 minutes. I just don't think we handled the pressure well."
Sabres goaltender Martin Biron turned in his best performance of the season making 28 saves, including 16 in the third when Buffalo was out shot 18-10.
Biron kept his team in the game with five or six spectacular saves, but in the end, it wasn't enough.
"We lost the game because in the third, we didn't do what we did in the first two periods," said Biron. "We can't give a team like Montreal 18 or 19 shots in the third period."
Rory Fitzpatrick gave Buffalo the early lead with a power-play goal at 2:57 of the first. Fitzpatrick received a pass from rookie Thomas Vanek
at the point and fired a shot on goal that found its way through heavy traffic to the back of the net.
The assist is Vanek's second in as many games and his ninth of the season.
Alexander Perezhogin answered for Montreal at 9:59 with an even-strength goal.
Buffalo's grit produced their second goal of the game and the only marker of the second period. On the forecheck, Paul Gaustad caused a turnover in Montreal's zone with a hard check in the corner, allowing Ales Kotalik to gift-wrap Adam Mair his first goal of the season.
With Mair camped in front of Canadiens goaltender Yann Danis without a Canadiens' defenseman in sight, Kotalik put a frozen rope directly on his tape for the easy redirect.
With the assist, Kotalik extends his points streak to three games (3+1=4).
The goal was long awaited for Mair, whose last score came against Montreal in HSBC Arena on March 24, 2004. The Hamilton, Ontario native's three goals against the Canadiens are the most he's scored against any NHL team except for Washington.
Michael Ryder, Montreal's leading scorer against Buffalo during the 2003-04 season with six points (2+4), scored at 5:06 of the third to even the game 2-2. Catching Buffalo on an extended shift and with tired legs, Ryder skated around the front of the net and fired high over Biron for his seventh of the season.
Niklas Sundstorm redirects Steve Begin's shot from the point for the game-winning goal at 17:08 of the third.
Buffalo travels to Montreal tomorrow to finish the second half of the home-and-home series.
--------------------------------------------------- SCORING REPORTS
| Super Stats
| Faceoff Comp
| Play By Play
| Shift Chart GAME BLOG:
1-0 (2:53): Defenseman Rory Fitzpatrick scores his third goal of the season off a slapshot from the point to give Buffalo the early lead. Yann Danis was heavily screened by JP Dumont and two of his teammates. Thomas Vanek
records his ninth assist of the and Maxim Afinogenov gets his sixth. The goal was Fitzpatrick's first power-play point of the season.
1-1 (9:59): Alexander Perezhogin ties the game with a wrist shot that beats Martin Biron high on his glove side. Perezhogin had just released the shot before he was flattened by Thomas Vanek
. Andrei Markov and Chris Higgins record the assists. Period 2
2-1 (0:49): Adam Mair slams home Buffalo's second goal of the game. Paul Gaustad caused a turnover on the forcheck in Montreal's zone that Ales Kotalik fired to Mair who was camped in front of Yann Danis. The goal is Mair's first of the season. Period 3
2-2 (5:06): Caught on a long shift and exhausted, Buffalo's defense allows Michael Ryder to skate in front of the net and fire a shot past Martin Biron to tie the game. The goal is Ryder's seventh of the season. Mike Ribeiro and Francis Bouillion register the assists.
2-3 (17:08): Niklas Sundstorm redirects a shot from Steve Begin past Biron to give Montreal their first lead of the game. Begin and Mathieu Dandenault record the assists.