A stunning comeback might have given the Montreal Canadiens what they need to get back on track. A visit to the league-worst Buffalo Sabres could also help.
The Canadiens will try to earn back-to-back victories for the first time in a little more than two weeks Sunday night by sending the Sabres to a sixth consecutive defeat.
Montreal (36-25-7) looked like it was heading for a season high-tying fourth consecutive defeat Saturday when it trailed Ottawa by three with less than 3 1/2 minutes to play. Instead of folding, the Canadiens produced three quick scores before the end of regulation with David Desharnais’ tying goal coming just before the buzzer.
Francis Bouillon gave the Canadiens the second point by scoring 1:26 into overtime in the 5-4 victory.
"We knew if we stuck to our game plan, we would win the game," said defenseman P.K. Subban, who was credited with assists on the final three goals in regulation. "Obviously, we weren’t expecting to win like that. We rallied but we did that through our structure. If you look at those goals we scored, there was nothing special about those goals."
The win pushed Montreal six points ahead of ninth-place Detroit in the Eastern Conference. The Canadiens will try to maintain their edge on a playoff berth with their first set of consecutive wins since Feb. 27-March 1.
A matchup with the lowly Sabres (19-40-8) could help them accomplish that goal. Buffalo has been outscored 16-5 in its last five games and Tyler Ellis tallied his team’s lone goal in a 4-1 road loss to the New York Islanders on Saturday.
"You can’t expect to win if you score only one goal. We had some good looks, but we couldn’t finish," said coach Ted Nolan, whose team has produced a league-low 126 goals.
Montreal has outscored Buffalo 6-3 while winning both of this season’s matchups and 11-4 during a three-game win streak in the series. The Canadiens scored all of their goals in a 3-2 home victory Dec. 7 in the second period and got one in each frame in a 3-1 win in Buffalo on Nov. 27.
Alex Galchenyuk has scored in each of the last three meetings, and defenseman Andrei Markov has one goal and eight assists during a six-game point streak against the Sabres. Carey Price has been in net for both matchups this season but won’t travel to Buffalo.
Price played in his first game since Feb. 8 in the win over Ottawa. He aggravated a lower-body injury while helping lead Canada to the gold medal in the Sochi Olympics last month.
"We don’t want to put him in back-to-back games," coach Michel Therrien said. "He’s going to remain in Montreal and make sure he’s ready for his next game this week."
Peter Budaj is 4-1-2 with a 2.18 goals-against average in seven career appearances against the Sabres and needed to stop only 14 shots in a 5-1 win in Buffalo on April 11. The team’s other backup, Dustin Tokarski, gave up four goals on 15 shots in his only game against the Sabres on March 19, 2012, while with Tampa Bay.
Montreal is 5-1-3 in its last nine trips to Buffalo and has won in each of its last two.