Robert Lang celebrates his first-period goal against the Sabres in Buffalo. More photos here.
Bill Wippert, NHLI via Getty Images
Sometimes scrambly, sometimes sensational. The Canadiens got their centennial season off to a thrilling start tonight in Buffalo before falling 2-1 in a shootout.
The Sabres’ Ales Kotalik and Drew Stafford scored on identical deke backhands on Canadiens goalie Carey Price, while Habs’ Robert Lang missed on a deke and Saku Koivu lost the puck attempting a move on Sabres goalie Ryan Miller
Lang, a free-agent signing during the offseason, scored his first goal as a Canadien on a hard wrister to give Montreal a 1-0 first-period lead, but that was erased by Tomas Vanek, who corralled a neutral-zone puck that bounced over the stick of Habs defenceman Mike Komisarek and swept in to slide one past Price. The netminders were the story the rest of the way, Price earning the game’s first star for Montreal and Miller playing brilliantly for the Sabres, especially in the overtime with the Canadiens swarming all around him. Buffalo outshot Montreal 36-28; the Canadiens killed six penalties but went 0-for-5 with a man advantage.
The Habs dodged two – in fact, three – bullets in the third period, Steve Bégin taking tripping and slashing penalties on the same shift, and Guillaume Latendresse called for interference with 4:40 left in regulation.
The Canadiens were to leave immediately after the game for Toronto, where they’ll face the Maple Leafs in a Hockey Night in Canada Original Six game on Saturday. The Habs will finish off their three-game road swing on Monday in Philadelphia vs. the Flyers before returning home for their home opener Wednesday vs. Boston.