MONTREAL -- Bon jour from high-high-high-high atop Le Centre Bell (grades on my 1st-grade level French, anyone?) as we await tonight's Sabres-Canadiens game. TV reminder: It's a Versus game so no MSG (Rick and Harry are radio-only). And faceoff is scheduled for 7:40, which has us print types in fine moods.
It was freezing here today. As in 1 degree. As in colder than when I was in Edmonton in December. So did I simply stay holed up in the hotel room? Nope. That's why you have Underground Montreal, a 19-mile long tunnel system below office buildings and hotels and the like. Shopping and great cafes everywhere (I found an apple turnover the size of a basketball).
Most of the attention tonight of course is going to Jhonas Enroth in the Buffalo net in place of Ryan Miller. An interesting environment to put the kid in for sure.
"Playing against Montreal is something very huge," Enroth said after the team's morning skate today. "It's a big arena and I'm real excited for tonight."
Huge is the word. This place is filled with 21,273 every night. It's a massive building with a lower level that goes about 25 rows deep. And the scoreboard is absurd. So is the pregame laser light show on the ice. If you've never been here, you must come once in your life. Awesome.
One Habs note: Old friend Jaro Spacek is a scratch (back). The Sabres' scratches are Patrick Kaleta (hand), Steve Montador (concussion) and Craig Rivet (whatever). Do we even have to list Rivet anymore?
By the way, this is one of the Sabres' games in hand over the Rangers, Thrashers and Hurricanes. None of them are playing tonight.
Sabres starters: Vanek-Hecht-Pominville-Myers-Sekera. Goal: Enroth.
Habs starters: Pacioretty-Plekanac-Gionta-Wisniewski-Hamrlik. Goal: Price.
Shootout recap: Sabres win 4-3 in 10 rounds. NHL-best 5-0 in shootouts. Second-longest in franchise history (lost to Colorado last year in 11). Ties NHL record for goals in a shootout set numerous times. Enroth was the first goalie in NHL history to post his first two career wins in shootouts. Now he has his first three. Montreal led, 2-0, but Vanek and Ennis kept Buffalo alive to get it into extra rounds. Pacioretty and Gerbe scored in round five to make it 3-3. Price made five saves when a Buffalo goal would have ended it before Hecht finally won it on a deke in round 10.
45.7: Place up as Price robs Pominville with the glove. After robbing Gerbe. After Myers cranked one off the post.
9:27 p.m.: The puck is dropped.
18:11 left: Hecht stopped from point blank range and the puck drops behind Price. Hecht then gets a high-sticking call for clipping Wisniewski behind the net. Tough, tough break.
17:10 left: Pacioretty off the post after a bad back pass from Connolly, who went for Leopold in the zone instead of a breaking Niedermayer who was open in front. Can't see how you blame connolly with those two options actually.
13:52 left: Hecht from behind the net. Pominville a one-timer from slot. Game tied, 2-2.
9:53 left: Sabres keeping the pressure on. Shots are 30-26 for Montreal. It was 17-4 late in the first period.
7:54 left: Great save by Price on Butler, of all people, streaking down the middle and tipping a Pominville feed.
1:25 left: Weber gone for tripping Andrei Kostitsyn. Lindy Ruff not happy. Nor should he be.
OT: Great kill so far by Buffalo. Shots are 31-29 for Montreal.
8:31 p.m. The puck is dropped.
18:20 left: Habs kill the penalty. Great save by Price on a Vanek tip from in front and on a Leopold rebound.
16:08 left: Hecht for holding. Silly penalty, using the free hand at center. Kills all the momentum the Sabres have built. Shots are 4-1 for Buffalo thus far and the edge has been big.
13:32 left: Myers-Sekera get burned like toast as Habs make it 2-0. Benoit Pouliot gets the goal, pumping in a great backhand pass from David Desharnais. Pouliot got ahead of Myers and Desharnais walked right around Sekera. No chance for Enroth. Habs lead, 2-0.
9:13 left: Habs in complete control in this one. Crowd is wild -- because of the car race going around the building on the electronic ribbon board. Jeez.
5:45 left: I haven't had much to say because not much is happening. Besides, we're late in the second period and I'm writing my story. I'm sure Ryan Miller approves.
4:02 left: Desharnais goes for interference on Vanek. Officials don't call that enough. Vanek-Byron-McCormick as a trio have done some good work.
2:12 left: The power play works as Stafford (who else?) flips one home for his 24th of the season. Vanek with a sick between-the-legs maneuver to Price's right helped make the play. Habs lead, 2-1.
End-2nd: It's 2-1 and shots are 26-22 for Montreal. It was 15-8 for Buffalo in that period. Much better one for the Sabres.
7:40 pm: The puck is dropped.
16:14 left: Myers for cross-checking. No trouble for Enroth so far. Shots are 3-0 for the Habs. He's made three saves. Habs had an early 3-on-1 break (COnnolly and Ennis caught) but Scott Gomez shot wide.
15:06 left: Pacioretty comes out from behind the net to Enroth's left and overpower the goalie on his own rebound to pump it home. Habs lead, 1-0. Shots are 6-0.
14:15 left: Price turns away Buffalo's first shot, a bullet from the right circle by Stafford.
12:48 left: The Sabres are in complete slow motion in this one. Habs dominating at all turns. Shots are 8-2. The lines have looked like this: Vanek-Hecht-Pominville, Ennis-Connolly-Stafford, Niedermayer-Gaustad-Grier and McCormick-Byron-Gerbe. Defense pairs are Sekera-Myers, Morrisonn-Weber and Butler-Leopold.
12:05 left: It's 11-2. Enroth needs to try to hold the fort until his team shows up.
11:10 left: Price stops Stafford on the doorstep after a Leopold feed. Stafford basically the only non-Enroth Sabre to show up so far.
9:52 left: Price's best save, a glove spear of Sekera's shot from the left circle. Price vs. Buffalo in his career: 8-4-4, 2.02 GAA, .936 save percentage. Yikes.
8:13 left: Pominville for holding at center ice. Chintzy at best.
6:10 left: PP killed. Enroth stopped Plekanec twice and Kostitsyn had a good chance from the slot that didn't get through.
5:00 left: Enroth stops Ryan White after a terrible giveaway by Niedermayer. Why is he still in the lineup? No goals. What does he do?
3:22 left: Shots are 17-5 but Price nearly made a major gaffe by thinking Pominville was pumping one around the boards -- when he was actually firing it on net. Price had to stick the right pad out and you should have heard the gasps in the crowd. Enroth needs to keep Buffalo within a goal here so the Sabres can get to the dressing room and then wake up.
A raucous standing ovation for Erik Guay as he appears on the HD board. Never heard of him. Had to google him. New world downhill champion. Who follows skiing in a non-Olympic year?
22.5 left: Pouliot for tripping. Good play by Connolly to take the puck all the way back behind the Buffalo net and kill much of the clock so the Sabres will have more penalty time to start the second.
End-1st: Sabres survive. Habs lead, 1-0 and outshoot Buffalo, 18-7, in a period that saw the Sabres completely outclassed. Regroup time.