March 24, 2018 / 2:12 AM / 7 months ago

Niemi, Canadiens shut out Sabres

Antti Niemi made 35 saves to record his first shutout in more than two years, and Artturi Lehkonen’s early second-period tally held up as the winner as the Montreal Canadiens claimed a rare road victory, beating the Buffalo Sabres 3-0 on Friday.

Niemi’s last shutout was Dec. 22, 2015, a 4-0 win over the Chicago Blackhawks while he was with the Dallas Stars. It came 84 games ago for Niemi, who won a Stanley Cup while with the Blackhawks in 2010. It’s the 36th shutout of Niemi’s career,

The victory at KeyBank Center was the Canadiens’ 10th on the road this season, the fewest in the league. Montreal snapped a four-game losing streak, all in regulation.

After a scoreless, and rather uninspiring, opening period, Lehkonen netted his 10th goal of the season to open the scoring at 4:56 in the second frame. Alex Galchenyuk swooped around the back of the net before firing a sharp-angled shot that didn’t make it through the traffic in front, and the puck came to Jacob de la Rose in the slot.

De la Rose missed the net, but the puck bounced off the end boards right to Lehkonen at the side of the cage, and he snapped the close-in chance behind Sabres goalie Linus Ullmark. Lehkonen has scored four goals in the past six games and five in his past eight outings.

Paul Byron and Brendan Gallagher added empty-net goals to round out the scoring. Byron, who collected his 18th goal on the season, scored with 75 seconds remaining, while Gallagher tallied with 44 seconds left.

Montreal won all four meetings with Buffalo this season, two in extra time.

The Sabres wasted a golden chance early in the third period when they had a 66-second five-on-three power play. They couldn’t convert against a Montreal penalty kill that is worst in the league and had been victimized on one-third of its short-handed situations on the road.

Ullmark stopped 21 shots for the Sabres, who have lost three straight and five of six outings.

—Field Level Media

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