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Pacioretty’s record OT goal lifts Canadiens past Sabres
MONTREAL — You would think owning a share of the Montreal Canadiens record for overtime goals, forward Max Pacioretty would have a pretty good idea what he was going to do when given the chance.
“Nope, not at all,” said Pacioretty, who scored at 3:08 of overtime to give the Canadiens a 2-1 victory against the Buffalo Sabres at Bell Centre on Saturday and giving him sole ownership of the Canadiens overtime goals record.
It was the 10th regular-season overtime goal of Pacioretty’s career, moving him past Habs greats Aurele Joliat and Howie Morenz.
“Was overtime always in place in the NHL? I don’t how much that means. It’s cool any time you’re acknowledged among great players like that,” Pacioretty said.
Andrew Shaw scored for the Canadiens (8-9-1) and Charlie Lindgren made 34 saves.
Ryan O’Reilly scored for the Sabres (5-9-3) and Chad Johnson made 27 saves as Buffalo lost for the second straight night. The Sabres were beaten 4-1 to the Florida Panthers at home Friday.
Shaw tied the score 61 seconds into the third period on the power play when he tipped a shot by Jonathan Drouin. Buffalo’s Jack Eichel was in the penalty box for slashing.
O’Reilly gave the Sabres a 1-0 lead with 5.7 seconds left in the first period on the power play.
After Sabres defenseman Nathan Beaulieu broke his stick at the Canadiens blue line in overtime, the Sabres lost a battle for the puck at their own line and Pacioretty skated in alone on Buffalo goaltender Chad Johnson. Pacioretty shifted to his backhand and gave the Canadiens their seventh win in their past 10 games.
“There was a lot of emotion because we felt that was a huge game for us,” Pacioretty said. “We’re climbing our way back into this thing. I know it’s still early but to get every point right now we know is so valuable knowing that we lost a lot of points early in the year. There’s a lot of emotions and we like the way our team is trending.”
Lindgren, called up after Canadiens No. 1 goaltender Carey Price was injured Nov. 4, won for the third time in four games.
“We were kind of on our heels for the first 20 (minutes), but I thought we really answered the bell and dug our heels in and started playing our hockey,” Lindgren said. “It was a really big character win for us.”
Lindgren, a 23-year-old who went undrafted, said it’s hard not to hear all the good things being said about his play.
“I’m trying not to. I’m just trying to stay in a groove,” he said. “For me, this is what I want to do. I want to be confident out there and not surprised by what I’m doing at all. I think this is what I expected and it’s been really fun.”
“He’s been awesome,” Pacioretty said of Lindgren. “I keep saying it over and over. You see him make big saves, you see him battling and working so hard. He deserves all the credit he gets and all the people talking about how well he’s doing because he puts in the work and that trickles down through he lineup.”
The Sabres were held to one goal for the fifth time in their past eight games and are 3-4-1 during that span.
O’Reilly took the blame for the Sabres lack of offense.
“Our goaltender has been playing great,” he said. “We’re not scoring goals. I’m not doing enough to create offensively. Five-on-five I haven’t generated any good chances. It’s frustrating. I wish I had the answer for it. I’m pretty much just skating around and doing nothing right now.”
O’Reilly also accepted responsibility for the winning goal. He was one of the Sabres who lost the battle for the puck before Pacioretty scored.
“He made a good play,” O’Reilly said. “Skilled players making good plays. It was my error. I should have at least thrown it back to our goalie and or do something to make sure they don’t get possession when we have a broken stick. It’s my fault there.
Johnson said he tried to outwait Pacioretty, but the Canadiens forward made a good move.
“I tried to be patient,” Johnson said. “I know he goes 5-hole all the time, too. He had a little bit more time and he was coming slow, as well. It was real close. I had to bite. I know he likes to go 5-hole and he just went around me. My legs just weren’t long enough there to make the save. It’s disappointing because I thought we were right there. Good for him, I guess, making that move.”
Sabres coach Phil Housley said despite his team being held to one goal, he liked his players’ willingness to get to the net.
“I thought tonight was a start,” he said. “I thought it was our best night. We got pucks to the net. We were really gritty and dirty in front of the net. If we continue to do that, we’re going to break that one-goal (trend). We had opportunities to score. Thing was intriguing to me was when we delivered shots in front the net, guys were willing to pay the price in front of the net and get second opportunities. If we continue to do that, we’re going to score more goals, but we have to do it on a consistent basis.”
NOTES: The Canadiens announced during the game G Al Montoya is out indefinitely with a concussion. ... G Carey Price missed his fifth game with a lower-body injury and was placed on injured reserve retroactive to Nov. 3. ... Canadiens starter Charlie Lindgren was backed up Zach Fucale, who was called up from the Laval Rocket of the American Hockey League on Friday. ... The Canadiens scratched D Brandon Davidson and C Torrey Mitchell. ... Sabres D Josh Gorges returned to the lineup after missing nine games with a lower-body injury. D Victor Antipin came out of the lineup. ... The Sabres were without LW Evan Rodrigues (hand), D Zach Bogosian (lower body), C Jacob Josefson (lower body), RW Justin Bailey (lower body), D Matt Tenk and D Rasmus Ristolainen (upper body). ... C Seth Griffith was scratched for the Sabres.