After another three game losing streak, the Buffalo Sabres finally got another win on Thursday, Feb. 7, defeating the Montreal Canadiens 5-4 in a shootout, avenging their previous 6-1 loss to Montreal on Saturday.
The Sabres, however, didn’t get off to the start they were looking for in the first period, as Tomas Plekanec gave the Canadiens an early 1-0 lead a little over four minutes into the opening period on a snap-shot from the right faceoff dot that beat Ryan Miller.
Fifteen seconds later though, Steve Ott knotted the score up at one with a shot from right circle after taking a pass from the corner from Jochen Hecht.
The Canadiens went back up by a goal 12:31 into the second period, with Brendan Gallagher firing a wrist-shot past Ryan Miller from the top of the right face-off circle and putting the Canadiens up 2-1
Then, yet again, the Sabres tied it right back up only 35 seconds later on a goal by Tyler Ennis. Marcus Foligno tapped the puck through the neutral zone up to Ennis, who darted to the net from the left wing and chipped it past Canadiens goalie Peter Budaj to even the score at two.
However, the Sabres got into penalty trouble later in the second period, with Cody Hodgson taking a hooking penalty 17:06 into the period, and then Steve Ott taking a high sticking penalty 33 seconds later.
With the Canadiens now on a 5-on-3 advantage, P.K. Subban took a pass from Andrei Markov and ripped a slap shot from the top of the left circle that beat Miller up high and gave the Canadiens a 3-2 lead with 1:28 remaining in the period.
Then, 45 seconds into the third period, Tomas Plekanec put the Canadiens up 4-2 with his second goal of the game on a breakaway.
When everything looked to be going the Canadiens way, in the middle of the third period Steve Ott delivered a hit on Canadiens forward Ryan White in the neutral zone that White took exception to. In retaliation, White started firing punches at Ott, but Ott kept his gloves on and did not return any punches, and White was given a double-minor.
With the Sabres now on a four minute power play, and having been zero for their previous 16 and 0-5 in the game, the Sabres finally cashed in with a goal by Thomas Vanek, cutting the score to 4-3 almost eight minutes into the third period. Christian Ehrhoff fired a slap shot from the point that was stopped by Peter Budaj, but the puck eventually came to Thomas Vanek on the rebound, who backhanded it into the top of the net.
After 12 minutes of scoreless hockey and the Canadiens seemingly holding on for the victory, the puck somehow managed to find its way into the Montreal net with merely 1.9 seconds remaining on the clock after a mad scramble in front of Peter Budaj. Marcus Foligno threw a backhand on Budaj from beside the net in the dying seconds that Budaj had trouble handing, and with the puck loose in the goal crease, Thomas Vanek jammed the puck into the net amidst a sea of bodies to tie the score at four and force overtime.
Overtime ended without any winner though, and the game went into a shootout.
Thomas Vanek scored on the Sabres first chance, but the Canadiens evened up the shootout at one on their first chance by Alex Galchenyuk.
Tyler Ennis of the Sabres and Rene Bourque of the Canadiens were both unsuccessful in their attempts during the second round of the shootout, which brought both teams to their final shooters.
Sabres captain Jason Pominville scored on his chance, which put the pressure on Canadiens captain Brian Gionta to score to keep the shootout going.
However, Ryan Miller was equal to the task, stopping Gionta and securing the Sabres first win in four games.
Thomas Vanek continues to lead the NHL in scoring, and with two more goals now has 10 goals and 11 assists for 21 points, despite missing one of the Sabres first 11 games of the season.
Steve Ott, Tyler Ennis, and Marcus Foligno also had multi-point games on the night, as Ennis had a goal and two assists, Ott had a goal and an assist, and Foligno chipped in two assists.
With the win, the Sabres move to 4-6-1 on the season, and will travel to Long Island to face the New York Islanders on Saturday night.