Pre-season: Montreal 3 Buffalo 2 (Bell Centre)
The coach known for his defensive systems couldn’t have been pleased. Less than a minute into the game, a defensive gaffe by Roman Hamrlik gave the Sabres a 1-0 lead. Hamrlik was playing his first shift of the pre-season, having been sidelined with tonsilitis. Clarke MacArthur easily went around Hamrlik and in alone on goal.
Coach Martin then witnessed a bad giveaway by Josh Gorges giving pint-sized Nathan Gerbe a free path to the net resulting in a 2-0 Sabres lead.
Predictably, the Bell Centre boobirds voiced their displeasure in the direction of Carey Price. All Price did was to shutout the Sabres the rest of the way making several spectacular glove saves. Price carried his team until the Canadiens offense woke up. Price finished the night with 29 saves.
Brian Gionta triggered the comeback as he scored with a one-timer on an excellent pass from Tomas Plekanec. Gionta and Plekanec were also very good penalty killers combining for several shorthanded chances. While penalty killing seems to be coming around, the power-play is still a work in progress.
Max Lapierre scored 5-hole on a shot from the slot to tie the game with less than a minute remaining in the second period. Max Pacioretty provided a screen in front of the net. It was good to see Pacioretty back in the lineup after suffering a separated shoulder in the Pittsburgh game.
Good work by Scott Gomez along the side of the net helped set up the Canadiens third goal by Greg Stewart.
The goals by Stewart and Lapierre were welcome news as the both players had a mediocre training camp.
A player who has excelled in camp is Ryan O’Byrne. O’Byrne destroyed Patrick Kaleta in a fight in the first period. Kaleta elbowed Tom Pyatt’s head into the glass. Pyatt was unconscious for a time and didn’t return to the game. It was refreshing to see Canadiens coming to the aid of their teammates, a scene that was replayed several times in the game.
The Canadiens head to Caledon, Ontario for three days of practise and bonding before the season opener Thursday night in Toronto.
Andrei Markov is sick with the flu and will not play.
Official three stars:
1. Brian Gionta
2. Max Lapierre
3. Ryan Miller
(photo credit: AP)