Canadiens rout Sabres, run season-opening win streak to 8
BUFFALO, N.Y. — Andrei Markov had a career night for the streaking Montreal Canadiens.
The defenseman crossed the 500-point mark with a career-best five points and the Canadiens beat the Buffalo Sabres 7-2 on Friday night to run their season-opening winning streak to eight games.
"Maybe I just got lucky today," Markov said after finishing with a goal and four assists. "It’s great to have eight wins, but tomorrow is another challenge."
The Canadiens are two victories away from matching the NHL record set by the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1993-94 and matched by the Sabres in 2006-07.
Brendan Gallagher joked that he was surprised Markov had so many points.
"It’s a pretty undercover 500 points," Gallagher said. "He’s pretty special, year after year. It’s not every day that you get to see a guy put up 500 points."
Gallagher and Dale Weise each scored twice, and Max Pacioretty and Torrey Mitchell also scored. Mike Condon made 34 saves, and P.K. Subban and Tomas Plekanec each had three assists.
"When they put up seven, it makes any goalie’s job easier," Condon said. "It was really nice to see the offense explode tonight."
Matt Moulson and Ryan O’Reilly scored for Buffalo, and Cody Franson had two assists. Cody Franson had two assists, and Chad Johnson allowed all seven goals.
"You’re playing a team that hasn’t lost a game all year," Sabres defenseman Josh Gorges said. "You’ve got to play the right way the whole way through and too many times tonight, collectively as a group, we just made mistakes."
Montreal won for first time in four tries against Buffalo dating to Nov. 28, 2014.
The Canadiens opened the scoring with 5:25 left in the first period. Subban and Weise worked a 2-on-1 against Jake McCabe that ended with Weise’s one-timer past Johnson.
Jack Eichel nearly tied it with a minute left in the first, when he wheeled along the blue line and traced the left circle before being stifled by Condon.
"The score didn’t really dictate the game that well," Condon said. "They had a lot of chances, but we did a good job on defense negating that."
Johnson gave up a soft goal 45 seconds into the second, leaving the post open on a rebound after spilling Gallagher’s backhander back to the shooter.
The Montreal right wing added a power-play goal on a similar play 27 seconds into the third.
"Both those goals were just around the net, finding pucks," Gallagher said. "Any time you score seven, there’s a lot of guys doing a lot of good things."
The Sabres got on the board off a no-look backhand pass from Sam Reinhart. He was gliding past the goal line when he dropped the puck to Moulson for a hard snap shot past Condon.
Buffalo tied it 6 minutes later, with Franson navigating a diving shot-blocker and sliding the puck to O’Reilly for a one-timer that beat Condon low.
"They didn’t surprise us," Gallagher said. "You can just see the improvements they’ve made from last year. As soon as we turned it over, they made us pay. Condon made a lot of big saves for us."
Montreal reclaimed the lead when Mitchell, a former Buffalo player, redirected Subban’s slap shot past Johnson with 6:29 left in the second. Markov needed 3 seconds of Montreal’s first power play to send a slap shot from the point past Johnson to make it 4-2 with 1:38 left in the period.
Pacioretty picked up his goal on a low shot from the slot midway through the third period, and Weise deflected Markov’s point shot home to complete the scoring with 4:37 left.
NOTES: Jimmy Roberts, a five-time Stanley Cup winner as player for Montreal and a former Sabres head coach and assistant, died Friday. He was 75. …. Buffalo recalled goalie Linus Ullmark from Rochester of the American Hockey League before the game, and sent down goalie Nathan Lieuwen.