NHL Game Summary - Montreal at Buffalo
(Friday, October 10th)
Final Score: Buffalo 2, Montreal 1 (SO)
Buffalo, NY (Sports Network) - Ales Kotalik scored the decisive goal in the shootout, as the Buffalo Sabres opened the 2008-09 season with a 2-1 win over the Montreal Canadiens at the HSBC Arena.
Thomas Vanek tallied in regulation for Buffalo, which followed two straight conference final appearances with a disappointing 10th-place finish in the East in 2007-08. Ryan Miller made 27 saves to get the win.
Robert Lang lit the lamp and Carey Price stopped 35 shots for the Canadiens, who are celebrating their 100th year of existence. The Canadiens defied the odds by finishing atop the Eastern Conference standings last season. Montreal then survived a grueling, seven-game opening-round series against the Bruins before Philadelphia eliminated the Canadiens in five games in the semifinals.
Kotalik started the shootout for Buffalo, going forehand-backhand and lifting the puck over Price's right pad. After Miller denied Lang, Drew Stafford mirrored Kotalik's movements and beat Price as well. Montreal's Saku Koivu then lost control of the puck and failed to get off a quality shot to end the game.
At the end, Sabres coach Lindy Ruff was looking for a better performance from his team.
"We have to get a lot better, realizing there's not a lot in some situations," said Ruff. "Teams are getting better defending situations. You have to get the good habits. You have to drive the net, you have to make the easy play a lot of the time."
The Canadiens acquired Lang from Chicago last month, and the transaction paid immediate dividends as the veteran forward opened the scoring 2:58 into the contest. Andrei Markov let a shot go from the left point that pinballed off several bodies before finding the stick of Lang, who spun around and deposited a shot from the right circle in the back of the net.
Buffalo tied the game nearly five minutes later, as Vanek glided down the left wing, cut to the middle and sent a wrister past Price.
The goalies were the story in the second and third periods, and the game went to overtime. Late in the extra frame, Buffalo defenseman Jaroslav Spacek was whistled for tripping, but Montreal couldn't score.
Buffalo forward Tim Connolly missed the game because of a back injury...The Canadiens started a season on the road for the eighth consecutive year...Buffalo went 0-for-6 on the power play, while the Canadiens were 0- for-5.
10/11 01:26:53 ET