Suffering Canadiens withdrawal? The Gazette has the answer with the ultimate fantasy experience as beat writer Pat Hickey and Gazette techie Eric Tobon employ EA Sports NHL 13 to produce The Season That Isn’t. Here’s how things might have looked in Thursday night’s game between the Canadiens and Sabres in Buffalo:
BUFFALO – Thomas Vanek scored twice and added an assist to lead the Buffalo Sabres to a 4-1 win over the Canadiens Thursday night at First Niagara Center.
“It was another one of those games where we didn’t show up in the first period,” said Erik Cole, who accounted for the Canadiens’ lone goal with his 13th of the season. “We played them tough after the first period, but they took that 2-0 lead and let (goaltender Ryan) Miller carry it from there.”
Vanek scored both Buffalo goals in the first period. He cashed in on a 2-on-1 break with Jason Pominville to open the scoring at 5:46 and then redirected a shot by Ville Leino at 14:23.
Cole scored on a power play at 7:35 of the second period, going backdoor to convert David Desharnais’s pass through the crease, but that was the only shot to get past Miller. The Buffalo goaltender had to fight to stay awake in the first period when the Sabres outshot the Canadiens 16-2, but he was busy in the final two periods. The game finished with the Sabres holding a narrow 33-31 edge on the shot clock.
Christian Ehrhoff gave the Sabres some breathing room when he added a power-play goal at 16:22 of the second period with Tyler Myers and Vanek picking up assists. Pominville completed the scoring at 15:57 of the third period.
“We always seem to have trouble in this city,” defenceman Josh Gorges said. “I had a feeling during the morning skate that we didn’t have a lot of energy. The good thing is that we get these guys back home on Saturday night. We have to get back on track because this is always a busy month. We have two games at home next week, but then we play seven of our next games on the road.”
Brandon Prust stepped out of his weight class and traded punches with Cody McCormick, who had a three-inch height advantage and 30 pounds on Prust.
“I think I held my own,” Prust said as he held an ice pack over a welt on his cheek. “We grew up together in London and we’ve trained together in the summer, but I think that’s the first time we’ve fought.”
The Canadiens play the Sabres at home Saturday and have a Monday home date against Carolina.