MONTREAL -- Greetings from high atop the Bell Centre -- and I mean, high-high-high by the catwalks and retired banners in one of my favorite buildings in the NHL. It's the Sabres and Habs in what could be a war of attrition as both teams played last night. Things went appreciably better for the Sabres in their 3-1 win over the Leafs while the Habs were no-shows in a 3-0 loss at Atlanta. Backup Alex Auld took the loss in that game despite 44 saves.
No backups tonight as it's a marquee matchup between reborn Carey Price and Ryan Miller, who was solid last night after missing two games with groin tenderness.
We have a 7:15 start (thanks for nothing, Hockey Night in Canada). Can't even give you a good restaurant recap today. Flew into Newark, got here this morning, neither team skated and it was snowing like you wouldn't believe. Probably harder than it was walking out of HSBC Arena last night. No Schwartz's Deli trip. This time.
The roar is deafening as the Habs take the ice here. Every night. Quite a scene. Back with updates after the anthems.
Sabres starters: Stuart-Hecht-Pominville-Montador-Leopold. Goal: Miller.
Habs starters: Moen-Cammalleri-Gomez-Georges-Gill. Goal: Price.
9:06 left: We're under way.
18:27 left: Miller robs Kostitsyn, who was alone in front. Dispirited Sabres very soft on the puck along the wall since Montreal's second goal.
16:15 left: Sekera breaks his stick on a slapshot and charges back for the puck stickless behind the Buffalo net, taking out Miller after the goalie went to play the puck. Nearly created an empty net and an easy goal. This has to be Sekera's worst game of the year, easily his worst since he was paired with Myers.
14:34 left: Miller robs Giontat from in front in his bid for a hat trick. Habs have only three shots of the period.
7:56 left: The "Car-ey, Car-ey" chants really going now as Price preserves the shutout by robbing Gerbe from in front.
1:30 left: Now it's the "Ol-e, Ol-e." Shots are 34-32 for Buffalo. Only suspense is Price's shutout.
1: 13 left: Leopold breaks the shutout with 1:13 to go. His seventh, which is more than any Buffalo forward not named Vanek or Roy. Habs 3-1.
It's over: A 3-1 loss. Final shots were 35-33 for the Sabres.
Of note: First periods have told the tale for the Canadiens this season. They entered the game 14-2-1 when leading or tied after 20 minutes -- and 0-6-0 when trailing after 20. The Sabres, meanwhile, were 5-2-1 when leading after the first period but 4-10-2 when behind or tied. ... Subban had five shots for the Habs and no one else had two. Montreal won 15 of 20 faceoffs, a clear reason why the Habs' puck control was nearly complete over the second half of the period. Montreal had 12 shots in the final eight minutes. Weber, of all people, had three shots for Buffalo. Memo to forwards: Show up, please. Memo to Sabres in general: Five penalties in one period on the road is way too much.
8:08 p.m.: We're under way.
16:20 left: Pouliot goes for roughing after crunching Montador into the boards. Two close calls for Sabres so far -- Price stopped Roy on a give-and-go with Vanek and Vanek off the post after he had Price beat over the glove.
14:46 left: Good work by Price. Hecht put an Ennis rebound behind the goalie but out the other side and Price has stood tall otherwise. Five shots so far on this PP.
13:13 left: Amazing what you can do when you stay out of the penalty box. Shots are 8-1 for Buffalo in this period.
12:00 left: Two saves in 10 seconds by Miller, a beauty from in front on Gionta and a glove stop on Plekanac. Few seconds earlier, Pominville just missed on a great feed from Ennis. Excellent back-checking by the Habs on Ennis.
11:31 left: Another Sabres power play as Alexandre Picard goes for hooking.
9:07 left: Hard to complain about the PP tonight other than no goals. Hemmed the Habs in but Price was up to the test, especially on a one-timer from the slot on Gerbe. Shots are 24-21 for Montreal but 13-4 for Buffalo in this period. Habs, remember, were outshot by 23-4 in the second last night in Atlanta. Good response by the Sabres to that brutal final eight minutes of the first.
7:56 left: Oof. There's a killer. Terrible crossice pass by Vanek in the Montreal zone is picked off by Kostitsyn and Habs break on 2-on-1 on Weber. Perfect pass to Gionta, who beats Miller. No chance for Weber or Miller. Habs lead, 2-0.
7:24 left: Another Habs penalty. Ellers for holding.
4:22 left: The crowd is chanting "Car-ey, Car-ey" after another failed Buffalo power play. Imagine that. They wanted to run Price out of town this summer after the stunning trade of Jaroslav Halak to St. Louis. The bounceback years of Price and Boston's Tim Thomas are two of the biggest stories of the season in the NHL.
3:14 left: Gionta whistles one over Miller's shoulder to make it 3-0 Habs. Looked like Miller was screened by Sekera. Myers loses the puck to Plekanac, who makes a great feed to the slot. With this offense, I think it's safe to call this one over, isn't it?
5.9 left: A slugfest at center ice between McCormick and Travis Moen, again started by Cammalleri, who then moved out of the way and put Gerbe's shirt over his head. Cammalleri has a lot of Ken Linseman in him. Starts a lot. Finishes nothing.
End-2nd: Habs lead, 3-0. Shots are 27-24 for Montreal. It was 16-7 for Buffalo in that period. No rewards.
18:28 left: The Habs are certainly ornery after last night's game. Hal Gill was in a Sabre's face afte rthe first eight seconds and Lapierrer us off for interference on McCormick, who had hit P.K. Subban. Kind of a bad penalty we saw from the Leafs last night.
16:20 left: Not the same power play start as last night. The best save was by Miller on a breakaway by Tom Pyatt. Terrible pass from Sekera to Ennis got it going. Habs running all over the rink. Subban just crushed Kaleta and the crowd is roaring. A no-show in Atlanta will change your team's mood, eh?
13:17 left: Miller with the great glove grab on a tip from Jeff Halpern gets us to out first TV timeout. I've had some questions about Miller's glove this season. No issue there. Sharp-sharp-sharp. Shots are 5-5 and we have our first appearance from Youppi, the former Expos mascot who now works for the Habs, with the strains of "Minnie the Moocher" thrown in.
11:46 left: Habs doing a good job keeping the Sabres to the outside. Don't think any of Price's six saves thus far can be called difficult. Miller has already made two boffo ones.
10:37 left: Habs to the power play as Morrisonn goes for interference. Clean hit on the boards of Halpern -- but Halpern didn't have the puck as it was already by him.
8:44 left: Miller with the glove again to snag one from Plekanac. That's 43 of 44 saves for Miller in the last 72 minutes.
7:28 left: Sabres getting hemmed in and back in the box again, this time a cross-checking call on Montador. Nice work at the point for the Habs by old friend Jaroslav Spacek, one of the most imitated Sabres ever. Great voice. The media misses his wisecracks.
7:06 left: There's a disaster. With no one on him in the zone, Sekera fires the puck over the glass. Delay of game. Two-man edge for 1:38. Sabres lead the league with four goals against in the 5-on-3.
6:19 left: Miller can't stop 'em all. Andrei Kostitsyn with a tap-in after Gionta's shot was stopped by Miller after a sick feed from Plekanac.. Habs lead 1-0.
4:42 left: Sabres survive. Fifth goal of the year down two men. That's a killer. Shots are 13-7 for the Habs. There was no excuse for Sekera's shot over the glass. Puck didn't look like it was rolling and he had plenty of time. Gotta bear down in that situation, especially when you're already short-handed.
2:33 left: Sabres get a break with an icing call. Shots are 16-7. Miller's 15th save was a doozy, on former Sabres prospect Mathieu Darche, who walked in alone after going right around Sekera. No. 44 will want to forget this period.
1:13 left: Judging by the Habs' reaction, you can't check Mike Cammalleri? Weber just did and everyone in red basically went beserk trying to get him. Hecht and Cammalleri end up in the box. But Habs get a power play as Weber goes for charging in addition to Hecht-Cammalleri's coincidental roughing calls. No referee had an arm up on Weber. And what about Georges' bull rush on Weber? Nothing. Terrible.
End-1st: The Sabres somehow hold on for dear life and get out of the period down, 1-0. Shots were 20-8 for Montreal. Two great saves by Miller in the final 20 seconds. Kostitsyn nearly had his second but couldn't corral a loose puck on the doorstep.
taggedSabres game day