Canadiens captain Brian Gionta in action vs. Buffalo.
Phil Carpenter, Gazette
The debut of Brian Gionta as captain of the Canadiens didn’t have the happy ending fans hoped for Thursday night at the Bell Centre.
The Canadiens fell 5-3 to the Buffalo Sabres, outshot 37-31 by a team that only landed in Montreal two hours before game time. Indiscipline was costly – the Sabres scored three goals on the power play.
The Habs will need a victory Saturday in Quebec City against the New York Islanders if they’re to finish the preseason with a winning record; they’re now 3-3 after six games.
Montreal never led in this one, falling behind 2-0, rallying to tie it 2-2 with goals by Mathieu Darche and Ryan O’Byrne, then falling behind 4-2 before Tom Pyatt hit the Habs’ final goal midway through the third period.
Goaltender Alex Auld went the full game for the Canadiens, while Jhonas Enroth did likewise for the Sabres.
“Special teams often dictate the outcome,” coach Jacques Martin said, repeating a familiar refrain. “That was the case tonight.”
The Canadiens’ power play went 0-for-5, including another 5-on-3 opportunity. The goose egg ran the team’s pre-season record to three goals in 37 PP opportunities – ineptitude Martin attributed to never having both of his power-play waves in uniform for any of the team’s six games.
The Habs’ new captain? Gionta finished the night at +1, with two shots on goal, two more blocked, another three missed with one giveaway and one takeaway.