Ilya Kovalchuk and Brendan Gallagher each scored second-period goals as the Montreal Canadiens defeated the Buffalo Sabres 3-1 on Thursday night for their third straight road win.
Kovalchuk, playing his 10th game since joining Montreal, tied the game at 1-1 early in the second with his fifth goal in seven games, and Gallagher returned from a six-game absence with a concussion to score his 16th for the lead less than three minutes later.
Tomas Tatar added an empty-netter plus an assist, and Carey Price needed to make just 20 saves as the Canadiens won for the fifth time in seven games overall.
Jack Eichel secured his first 30-goal season while becoming the first Buffalo player with at least 30 and 30 assists since Jason Pominville (30 goals, 43 assists) in 2011-12.
The Sabres, however, managed just 21 shots while losing their third in a row.
In a matchup of two teams desperately trying to find a way into playoff position in the Eastern Conference, Buffalo opened the scoring when Eichel ripped a shot from the near circle past Price on the power play 7:11 into the game. Eichel has 13 points in the last 12 games overall and 16 goals in his last 16 home contests.
The Sabres have recorded at least one power-play goal in each of their last five home games.
Montreal, which didn’t record its first official shot on goal until 10 1/2 minutes into the game, leveled the score just 44 seconds into the second period. Kovalchuk went top shelf with a rebound of his own blocked shot past Sabres netminder Carter Hutton.
Less than three minutes later, Montreal went up 2-1. Gallagher went back and forth on his stick before converting a backhand shot by Hutton, who made 27 saves while falling to 0-8-4 as a starter since winning his first six starts of the season.
Buffalo veteran Kyle Okposo exited with an undisclosed injury apparently suffered late in the first period.
—Field Level Media