Forward lines and defense pairings
Pacioretty – Galchenyuk – Gallagher
Lehkonen – Plekanec – Radulov
Carr – Desharnais – Shaw
Byron – Mitchell – Danault
Beaulieu – Weber
Markov – Pateryn
Emelin – Sergachev
Brian Flynn, Zach Redmond, Carey Price, Sven Andrighetto
It was a workman-like effort tonight; nothing flashy, but an effective performance on the road. The Canadiens came out of the gate quickly dominating the first nine minutes of the game with a shot advantage of 8-1. Brendan Gallagher opened the scoring as he ripped a shot past Robin Lehner.
Montreal did not get a shot on goal for the final 11 minutes of the first period. It would take them six and a half minutes to register a shot in the second period as the slumber continued. The Sabres filled the void testing Al Montoya with 15 shots in the second. Montoya’s style wasn’t always pretty but he did an excellent job swallowing rebounds.
The Canadiens turned the switch on again in the first half of the third period using their superior speed to press the Sabres. A second goal by Gallagher and one from Andrew Shaw put the game away. Daniel Carr was the bulldog on the play that made the Shaw goal happen.
There was impressive play from newcomers Montoya (30 saves), Shea Weber (plus-3), Artturi Lehkonen (5 shots) and Alexander Radulov (68.75 CF%.) Rookie Mikhail Sergachev looked very nervous in his first NHL game. Sergachev was fortunate to be paired with Alexei Emelin who, in addition to six thundering hits, was solid on the back end.
Nathan Beaulieu had his moments, both good and bad playing 6:18 less than Weber, his defensive partner. Much of the difference was due to special teams duty but also reflective of his play. Beaulieu will be a work-in-progress and is not yet ready to fill Andrei Markov’s role full-time.
The Canadiens engine sputtered for large portions of this game but when they got it running, they easily handled the injury-depleted lineup of the Sabres. A win is a win but as the coach said post-game, there are still things to work on.
▲ Brendan Gallagher, Al Montoya, Artturi Lehkonen, Alexei Emelin, Shea Weber, Alexander Radulov, Daniel Carr
▼ David Desharnais, Mikhail Sergachev