for this game

Smolinski lifts Canadiens, eliminates Sabres

Apr 4, 2008 - 5:03 AM MONTREAL (Ticker) -- Bryan Smolinski scored twice and rookie goaltender Carey Price made 27 saves as the Montreal Canadiens eliminated the Buffalo Sabres from postseason consideration with a 3-1 triumph on Thursday.

Christopher Higgins also tallied for Montreal (46-25-10), which climbed back into a tie with idle Pittsburgh (47-26-8) for the top spot in the Eastern Conference.

The Canadiens close out their regular-season slate on Saturday with a home game against the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Penguins also have one game remaining, a road contest against the Philadelphia Flyers on Sunday.

Ales Kotalik scored the lone goal for Buffalo (38-31-12), which can point to Price in part for its inability to secure a postseason spot one year after winning the Presidents' Trophy.

The 20-year-old netminder has posted an 11-3-0 record with two shutouts in his last 14 starts, with three of those victories coming against the Sabres.

"The guys have really beared down and sacrificed a lot," Price said. "It really shows in our (penalty killing). The last few games, it's been pretty good, and that's just part of the playoff mentality."

The playoffs are something the Sabres will miss this season, which Derek Roy admitted will be a tough pill to swallow.

"We didn't get it done, we didn't play well and we have to look at ourselves in the mirror," Roy said. "We've had a tough time with injuries. We lost Max (Maxim Afinogenov) for a long time and Tim Connolly, he wasn't healthy all season long. So it's tough when two of your best players are pretty much missing for most of the season.

"We can't really blame it on that. The guys in the dressing room have to pull together and get wins, and I didn't think we did that."

Higgins and Smolinski scored 40 seconds apart in the first period to stake the Canadiens to a quick 2-0 lead.

"(The Canadiens) got the first break and we had to play catch-up," Buffalo goaltender Ryan Miller said.

With Montreal on the power play, defenseman Mark Streit unleashed a shot that Miller stopped. But Higgins buried the rebound with 8:32 remaining in the period for a 1-0 edge.

Smolinski blasted a one-timer just inside the right goalpost to give the Canadiens a two-goal bulge and scored again with 5 1/2 minutes remaining in the second period, when he wristed a shot from the slot past a screened Miller for his eighth goal of the season.

"You always want to be out there," Smolinski said. "Certain nights, other guys are stepping up. ... With key guys out, we're getting more ice time and more responsibility.

"Our line is a work in progress, and we're always trying to get better. We are not a line that will carry the team, it's more just chip and go. That's the way we play."

Kotalik got the Sabres on the scoreboard with 8 1/2 minutes to go in the third.

With Buffalo on a 4-on-3 power play, coach Lindy Ruff elected to pull Miller for an extra attacker, and Kotalik was able to beat Price for his 23rd goal of the season.

"We have a lot of young guys and they've come a long way," Ruff said. "I really felt we should have been in the playoffs, regardless of our youth.

"We let some games slip away. The road record down the stretch was good, (but) our home record hurt us. We were in the playoff picture and we just missed that last step to get in there."








  • NHL
    FINAL 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    BUFFALO 0 0 1 1
    MONTREAL 2 1 0 3 FINAL
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: MON - (PP) CHRIS HIGGINS 25 (MARK STREIT, ROMAN HAMRLIK)
    11:28
    MON - BRYAN SMOLINSKI 7 (STEVE BEGIN, RYAN O'BYRNE) 12:08
    2ND PRD: MON - BRYAN SMOLINSKI 8 (UNASSISTED) 14:28
    3RD PRD: BUF - (PP) ALES KOTALIK 23 (DEREK

    Apr 3 9:57 PM
  • 15
    roots
    bigbelly Added 5 roots

    Sabres 1, Canadiens 3  3rd - 4:15Apr 3 9:49 PM
  • 10
    roots
    bouch Added 5 roots

    Sabres 1, Canadiens 3  3rd - 6:05Apr 3 9:48 PM


  • NHL
    BUFFALO 1
    MONTREAL 3
    3RD PRD: BUF - (PP) ALES KOTALIK 23 (DEREK ROY, JAROSLAV SPACEK) 11:30

    Sabres 1, Canadiens 3  3rd - 8:30Apr 3 9:42 PM


  • NHL
    END OF THE 2ND 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    BUFFALO 0 0 0
    MONTREAL 2 1 3 END OF THE 2ND
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: MON - (PP) CHRIS HIGGINS 25 (MARK STREIT, ROMAN HAMRLIK)
    11:28
    MON - BRYAN SMOLINSKI 7 (STEVE BEGIN, RYAN O'BYRNE) 12:08
    2ND PRD: MON - BRYAN SMOLINSKI 8 (UNASSISTED) 14:28
    SHOTS ON GOAL: 1ST 2ND

    Apr 3 9:04 PM


  • NHL
    BUFFALO 0
    MONTREAL 3
    2ND PRD: MON - BRYAN SMOLINSKI 8 (UNASSISTED) 14:28

    Sabres 0, Canadiens 3  2nd - 5:32Apr 3 8:54 PM


  • NHL
    END OF THE 1ST 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    BUFFALO 0 0
    MONTREAL 2 2 END OF THE 1ST
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: MON - (PP) CHRIS HIGGINS 25 (MARK STREIT, ROMAN HAMRLIK)
    11:28
    MON - BRYAN SMOLINSKI 7 (STEVE BEGIN, RYAN O'BYRNE) 12:08
    SHOTS ON GOAL: 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    BUF 10

    Apr 3 8:12 PM


  • NHL
    BUFFALO 0
    MONTREAL 2
    1ST PRD: MON - BRYAN SMOLINSKI 7 (STEVE BEGIN, RYAN O'BYRNE) 12:08

    Sabres 0, Canadiens 2  1st - 7:52Apr 3 8:04 PM


  • NHL
    BUFFALO 0
    MONTREAL 1
    1ST PRD: MON - (PP) CHRIS HIGGINS 25 (MARK STREIT, ROMAN HAMRLIK)
    11:28

    Sabres 0, Canadiens 1  1st - 8:32Apr 3 8:01 PM
  • 5
    roots
    JFPouliot Added 5 roots

    Sabres vs. CanadiensApr 3 6:00 PM