Canadiens
Sabres
4 - 3 Final - OT
  for this game

Plekanec, Higgins help Canadiens stun Sabres

Mar 29, 2008 - 4:58 AM
BUFFALO, New York (Ticker) -- Montreal Canadiens coach Guy Carbonneau knows his team stole a victory.

Tomas Plekanec scored twice in the waning minutes of the third period and Christopher Higgins tallied 3:38 into overtime to lead the Montreal Canadiens to a 4-3 win over the Buffalo Sabres on Friday.

Alexei Kovalev had a goal and an assist and defenseman Mark Streit set up three tallies for the Canadiens (44-24-10), who moved one point ahead of the idle Pittsburgh Penguins (45-26-7) for first place in the Eastern Conference.

Having already clinched a playoff spot with a win on Monday, the Canadiens admitted it was not their best effort.

"We had two days off where the players relaxed and really took their minds off hockey, and it took us 57 minutes to get it back," Carbonneau said. "I don't think we played really bad, but there was no energy. (Buffalo) played desperate, they had to. We just kind of showed up.

"We didn't respond, but sometimes it's better to be lucky than good, and we took advantage of it in the last minutes."

Rookie Carey Price stopped 35 shots in helping the Canadiens extend their lead over the idle Ottawa Senators (42-28-8) in the Northeast Division to six points.

"We got lucky today a little bit," Streit said. "For Buffalo, it was a do-or-die situation. It's pretty tough for them. We took it too easy and didn't play as well as we should. Coming back like that doesn't happen every day."

"I don't think we played well in any period," Higgins added. "We came back and Tomas scored a big goal for us. I don't think at any point in the game we were happy with the way we were playing. It was a natural letdown after clinching the playoff spot."

Despite squandering a late lead, the Sabres (36-30-12) pulled within four points of the idle Boston Bruins (39-28-10) for the eighth and final playoff berth in the East.

It was the second straight home game in which the Sabres squandered a two-goal, third-period lead. They led the Senators, 3-1, before allowing five goals in the third on Tuesday.

"We do it too often to ourselves," Buffalo's Daniel Paille said. "We put ourselves in a position where we get a two-goal lead and try to be offensive, and it cost us throughout the game, especially that overtime goal. It's something we need to learn, but it's getting down to the wire with four games left. We put ourselves in that position again."

"We still feel we're in the race," Sabres captain Jason Pominville said. "We've just got to hunker down and be better. We had them where we wanted and we let it slip again. Eventually, we're going to have to learn from it and be better because it's costing us points."

Drew Stafford, defenseman Nathan Paetsch and Paille tallied for Buffalo, which plays two of its final four games against Boston.

"It was the story in the Ottawa game," Paetsch said. "Obviously, you have to look at the good parts of what you did, but it's tough. It's just wins and losses right now, that's all that matters. We've got to get those two points."

The Canadiens rallied from a 3-1 deficit as Plekanec notched two goals - his 28th and 29th of the season - in a 2:16 span to force the extra session.

Plekanec deflected Streit's shot from the point past goaltender Ryan Miller during a power play at 17:29 before poking in a rebound from the doorstep with 14.6 seconds left after the Canadiens pulled Price for an extra attacker.

"(At) 5-on-5, we didn't play well," Plekanec said. "That power-play (goal) saved us, for sure."

In overtime, Higgins tapped a cross-ice pass from Streit into a wide-open net for the game-winner.

"We were working hard behind the net there," Higgins said. "It popped out to (Streit). He's the kind of guy that can make that kind of pass. I was able to sneak behind their defense. I was sitting on the far post, just redirected it in. Pretty pumped up, for sure."

Buffalo took a 3-1 lead in the third as Paetsch and Paille scored 1:45 apart. Paetsch snapped a 1-1 tie with his second goal of the season at 5:30 and Paille doubled the lead with his 19th at 7:15.

Miller stopped 25 shots for the Sabres, who were 0-for-5 on the power play.








  • NHL
    FINAL IN OT 1ST 2ND 3RD OT TOTAL
    --- --- --- --- -----
    MONTREAL 0 1 2 1 4
    BUFFALO 0 1 2 0 3 FINAL IN OT
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: NONE
    2ND PRD: BUF - DREW STAFFORD 16 (DEREK ROY, ANDREJ SEKERA) 2:25
    MON - ALEXEI KOVALEV 34 (MIKHAIL GRABOVSKI, FRANCIS
    BOUILLON) 19:23
    3RD PRD: BUF - NATHAN PAETSCH 2 (DE

    Mar 28 10:12 PM


  • NHL
    MONTREAL 4
    BUFFALO 3
    OT: MON - CHRIS HIGGINS 24 (MARK STREIT, SAKU KOIVU) 3:38

    Canadiens 4, Sabres 3  End of OTMar 28 10:11 PM
  • 144
    roots
    RUWTbot Added 67 roots (Overtime)

    Canadiens 3, Sabres 3  OT - 4:20Mar 28 10:07 PM


  • NHL
    END OF THE 3RD GOING INTO OT
    1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    MONTREAL 0 1 2 3
    BUFFALO 0 1 2 3 GOING INTO OT
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: NONE
    2ND PRD: BUF - DREW STAFFORD 16 (DEREK ROY, ANDREJ SEKERA) 2:25
    MON - ALEXEI KOVALEV 34 (MIKHAIL GRABOVSKI, FRANCIS
    BOUILLON) 19:23
    3RD PRD: BUF - NATHAN PAETSCH 2 (DEREK ROY, THOMAS VANEK) 5:30
    B

    Mar 28 10:06 PM


  • NHL
    MONTREAL 3
    BUFFALO 3
    3RD PRD: MON - TOMAS PLEKANEC 29 (MARK STREIT) 19:45 (WITH EXTRA
    ATTACKER)

    Canadiens 3, Sabres 3  3rd - 0:15Mar 28 10:05 PM
  • 77
    roots
    RUWTbot Added 55 roots (Close Finish)

    Canadiens 3, Sabres 3  3rd - 0:15Mar 28 10:05 PM
  • 22
    roots
    millsythekiwi Added 5 roots

    Canadiens 2, Sabres 3  3rd - 1:16Mar 28 10:01 PM


  • NHL
    MONTREAL 2
    BUFFALO 3
    3RD PRD: MON - (PP) TOMAS PLEKANEC 28 (MARK STREIT, ALEXEI KOVALEV)
    17:29

    Canadiens 2, Sabres 3  3rd - 2:31Mar 28 9:58 PM
  • 17
    roots
    RUWTbot Added 17 roots (Close Finish)

    Canadiens 2, Sabres 3  3rd - 1:16Mar 28 9:58 PM


  • NHL
    MONTREAL 1
    BUFFALO 3
    3RD PRD: BUF - DANIEL PAILLE 19 (JASON POMINVILLE) 7:15

    Canadiens 1, Sabres 3  3rd - 12:45Mar 28 9:41 PM


  • NHL
    MONTREAL 1
    BUFFALO 2
    3RD PRD: BUF - NATHAN PAETSCH 2 (DEREK ROY, THOMAS VANEK) 5:30

    Canadiens 1, Sabres 2  3rd - 14:30Mar 28 9:36 PM


  • NHL
    END OF THE 2ND 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    MONTREAL 0 1 1
    BUFFALO 0 1 1 END OF THE 2ND
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: NONE
    2ND PRD: BUF - DREW STAFFORD 16 (DEREK ROY, ANDREJ SEKERA) 2:25
    MON - ALEXEI KOVALEV 34 (MIKHAIL GRABOVSKI, FRANCIS
    BOUILLON) 19:23
    SHOTS ON GOAL: 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    MO

    Mar 28 9:08 PM


  • NHL
    MONTREAL 1
    BUFFALO 1
    2ND PRD: MON - ALEXEI KOVALEV 34 (MIKHAIL GRABOVSKI, FRANCIS BOUILLON)
    19:23

    Canadiens 1, Sabres 1  2nd - 0:37Mar 28 9:08 PM


  • NHL
    MONTREAL 0
    BUFFALO 1
    2ND PRD: BUF - DREW STAFFORD 16 (DEREK ROY, ANDREJ SEKERA) 2:25

    Canadiens 0, Sabres 1  2nd - 17:35Mar 28 8:37 PM


  • NHL
    END OF THE 1ST 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    MONTREAL 0 0
    BUFFALO 0 0 END OF THE 1ST
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: NONE
    SHOTS ON GOAL: 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    MON 5 5
    BUF 11 11
    GOALIES: MON - CAREY PRICE
    BUF - RYAN MILLER

    Mar 28 8:13 PM