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NHL Game Summary - Buffalo at Montreal

(Saturday, March 31st)

Final Score: Montreal 4, Buffalo 3

Montreal, QC (Sports Network) - Saku Koivu scored early in the third period to give the Canadiens a two-goal lead, and Montreal survived a late score by Dainius Zubrus to hold on for a 4-3 win over the Buffalo Sabres.

Michael Ryder, Radek Bonk, and Maxim Lapierre all scored for Montreal, which has won eight of 10, and maintained its tenuous hold on the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

Jaroslav Halak stopped 22 shots to earn the victory for the Habs.

The Canadiens have 88 points, one back of the Rangers (89) and two behind the Lightning (90), who both won on Saturday. Toronto, which also won on Saturday to move to 87 points, is in ninth place in the East.

Daniel Briere and Thomas Vanek also scored for Buffalo, which would have clinched the top seed in the Eastern Conference with a win. Ty Conklin stopped 15 shots for the Sabres, who had won four of their last five games.

Briere drew first blood for Buffalo, scoring at the 9:20 mark of the first to put the Sabres ahead 1-0.

Ryder deflected in a shot at 15:33 to tie the game at 1-1 entering the second period.

"It was a must win for us tonight," said Ryder. "We wanted to make sure we didn't lost a second in a row."

Bonk collected the rebound of his own shot and backhanded it past Conklin to put Montreal up 2-1 at 6:39 of the second. Lapierre scored less than two minutes later to make it 3-1.

Vanek broke through for Buffalo, scoring with 1:01 left in the middle stanza to pull the Sabres to within 3-2 entering the third period.

Koivu's tally 3:22 in to the third put Montreal ahead 4-2, but Zubrus answered at 7:15 to again make it a one-goal game.

Buffalo's Drew Stafford briefly appeared to tie things up with a goal at 15:29, but replays clearly showed that Stafford kicked the puck in with his skate, and the goal was disallowed.

"We turned the puck over too many times tonight," said Zubrus. "After the second period we tried to turn it up a notch, but we didn't get a break."

Game Notes

Neither team scored on the power play...Each had two opportunities...The season series was split, 4-4-0.

03/31 22:29:53 ET

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