Having only 1 regulation loss in the past 18 games and coming in on another 5 game winning streak, they were primed for a letdown against a bottom-feeding Buffalo Sabres. Looking listless and out of sync for most of the game, they managed to get themselves down 2-0 on goals from super-pest Steve Ott and Tyler Ennis.
Despite outshooting the Sabres 19-12 after two periods and facing a clearly shaky Jhonas Enroth, nothing seemed to be working for the Canadiens. The Canadiens missed an incredible number of shots on excellent turnover opportunities and Enroth managed to get his pads on any shots that actually hit their target. Taking over the game in the latter part of the third period, the Canadiens capitalized on some excellent forechecking work by Brendan Gallagher who fed Max Pacioretty for his 9th goal (and first in 7 games). The Canadiens would up the pace of the game while searching for the equalizer, which surprisingly came off the stick of Colby Armstrong off a gorgeous backhand pass from Alex Galchenyuk.
In overtime, P.K. Subban picked up a high-sticking penalty at the outset that looked to be more of a phantom call. His stick never seemed to actually make contact with Mark Pysyk but truth be told, Subban shouldn’t have been aiming for the monster hit at that particular moment. It opened the door for Steve Ott to score his second of the game for the winner. Jhonas Enroth would pick up the win, having made 32 out of 34 saves, while his counterpart Carey Price made 18 out of 21.
Overall? A game that Canadiens only really showed up for one period and didn’t particularly deserve to be in. They need to take the point and forget about this lack luster effort. I’m happy with the strength and focus it took to tie up the game with two quick goals in the third and it showed a lot of heart. Too many times last year did this team fold when the opponent held a lead after 2 periods. They didn’t get the result they wanted, but got more than they deserved after two terrible periods.
My Three Stars:
1. Without a doubt, Brendan Gallagher: Created chances in the blue paint for 60 minutes and was one of the few to show up for 3 periods. Made an excellent move to get away from Tyler Myers and Cody Hodgson on the first Canadiens goal.
2. Steve Ott: Scored two goals and was generally an offensive threat all night.
3. Brian Gionta: one of the few veterans that showed any jump or life offensively. Had some excellent opportunities in the opening period that he would normally put to the back of the net.