Postgame Report | Sabres battle back but fall to Canadiens on home ice
Rasmus Dahlin watched his attempt from the right side of the net deflect off the pad of Montreal Canadiens goaltender Sam Montembeault, the 45th shot taken by the Buffalo Sabres in a 3-2 loss inside KeyBank Center on Tuesday.
Josh Anderson scored the winning goal for Montreal with 3:46 remaining, less than four minutes after Dylan Cozens had scored for the Sabres to tie the game. The Sabres – opening a four-game homestand after spending nine nights on the road – earned a 45-34 edge in shots.
“We got lot of shots, but we need more bodies around the net to get those rebounds and get those greasy goals,” Cozens said afterward. “Not every goal’s going to be pretty. So, I think that was something we need to work on, for sure.”
Jeff Skinner also scored for the Sabres. Eric Comrie made 31 saves.
How it happened
The Sabres fell behind 1-0 despite generating advantages in shots (14-11) and scoring chances (10-2, according to Natural Stat Trick).
Buffalo’s best chance occurred early on its first power play. Tage Thompson drove toward the Montreal net, lost control of the puck and watched it deflect off a Canadiens defenseman Kaiden Guhle and towards the goal line. The puck drifted just wide of the post and was cleared.
Instead, it was Montreal that benefited from an advantageous bounce on a Brendan Gallagher shot from the half wall. Eric Comrie made a pad save, but the rebound went in off the leg of Sabres defenseman Owen Power with 6:29 remaining in the period.
The Sabres opened the period with 34 seconds remaining on their second power play of the night, most of which they used before Skinner tied the score at 1-1.
Skinner corralled a loose puck in the right circle and lifted a shot over Montembeault’s shoulder from in tight.
Buffalo went on to outshoot Montreal 10-2 in the first half of the period but could not force another one past Montembeault. Comrie locked down the latter half of the period. His nine saves included a point-blank attempt from Cole Caufield during the final two minutes.
“I think the second period was our big, big opportunity,” Sabres coach Don Granato said. “I think we complicated some things. We could have been a little bit more intense going to the net, maybe scored a goal. I think we tried to pass the puck into the net. (We were) feeling good about puck movement or possession time and didn’t have the killer instinct that we needed at that point. And it caught up with us.”
Kaiden Guhle buried a one-time shot from the right circle to put the Canadiens ahead 6:51 into the period.
The Sabres pushed for the tying goal – including multiple deflection chances from captain Kyle Okposo – until Cozens finally beat Montembeault with 7:06 remaining. Cozens lofted on shot from the left faceoff circle, utilizing a drive-by screen from linemate Victor Olofsson.
Anderson buried a shot through traffic from the high slot for the winning goal with 3:46 remaining.
“Uncharacteristically, I thought we backed off, specifically defensively,” Granato said. “We gave up time and space, we were not assertive enough, and they’ve got good hockey players over there. We gave them extra time to execute.”
What we learned
1. Skinner now has 18 points (10+8) in 11 games against the Canadiens as a member of the Sabres. He had a four-goal, five-point game against Montembeault in Montreal last season.
2. Jack Quinn tallied the primary assist on Skinner’s goal for his first point of the season.
The homestand continues on Saturday against Chicago. Tickets are available here.
Coverage on MSG begins at 6:30 p.m. The puck drops at 7 on MSG and WGR 550.