FINAL SCORE MTL 3-2 BUF (SO)
BUF Pominville (2)
MTL Pacioretty (1), Danault (1)
The first game of a new era in Buffalo Sabres history came to a bittersweet end as the Sabres ceded a 2-1 3rd Period lead before losing in a shootout against the Montreal Canadiens.
Evander Kane found himself in an unprecedented position in Sabres history when he took the first ever faceoff violation penalty in team history two and a half minutes into the game. Robin Lehner shined on the Habs first man advantage, maintaining his composure on several net-front opportunities for Montreal.
Montreal returned the favor to the Sabres a few minutes later with a delay of game penalty. Despite not converting, Buffalo looked incredible on the PP. Sam Reinhart failed to tap in an Eichel pass for the only blemish of the man advantage.
Pominville’s population would grow by one exactly 8:30 into the 1st Period when Jason Pominville roofed a backhand for a powerplay goal.
The stars of the first period were Robin Lehner, Kyle Okposo and Jason Pominville. Although Okposo didn’t record a goal or assist he was surprisingly noticeable despite a season ending health concern restricting him from playing at the end of the prior year.
Montreal scored the equalizer after a Ryan O’Reilly turnover. Drouin was able to find Max Pacioretty on a cross crease one-timer. This was an uncharacteristic terrible play by ROR.
Buffalo came out with a head of steam in Period two when Jack Eichel found Pominville again to raise the population to two. The real estate business is booming in Pominville!
Even Shady was feeling it!
Evander Kane found himself on the wrong side of a penalty once more, this time going to the box for slashing.
The Sabres squandered a two man advantage in the middle of the 2nd, though it did not come without its chances. Pominville nearly cashed in on a hat trick on another one-time attempt but didn’t get all of the puck. Seth Griffith had a strong showing on the PP as well as Viktor Antipin.
Montreal scarcely saw the puck in the 2nd Period as Buffalo pinned them in their zone the majority of the 20 minutes. This was of course aided by the Buffalo powerplay, which although was 1/4 at this point looked mighty impressive.
Buffalo’s pace under Coach Housley is immediately noticeable. The Habs were given no room to breath in their own end in the early goings of the 3rd. Buffalo had a sustained level of pressure in the offensive end that has not been seen in Buffalo for about a decade.
An area in need of improvement is defense in front of Lehner’s net. Montreal nearly found themselves tying the game with 14:30 remaining due to a lack of awareness by the Buffalo D. Robin Lehner’s poise was on display when he cleared the net of a scoring chance.
Montreal’s 2nd goal came short handed as Philip Danault snuck a wraparound past Lehner. Buffalo’s fifth PP attempt was the worst of the night as little pressure or zone time was generated and a goal was given up.
The Sabres could not match the energy level they brought in the opening two periods throughout the entirety of the 3rd. Montreal took control of the game midway through the period and had a powerplay attempt fended off by Buffalo.
The score stayed tied at two as time expired, sending the first game of the season to overtime. Eichel, Kane and Beaulieu started the period. Eichel nearly scored the winner with a beautiful one time attempt that Price just got enough of with his blocker. Time expired in overtime and the home opener came down to a shootout.
Questions lingered heading into the tiebreaker due to Lehner’s shootout struggles last season. Lehner this time only allowed one goal, however that’s all that was needed as Montreal took game one of the season 3-2 in a shootout.
Buffalo starts the season 0-0-1 and for the fifth time since 2012-13 have dropped the season opener. The Sabres start the season with a point and look to get their first win Saturday in Brooklyn against the Islanders.