Game 1, Away Game 1 | Thursday October 5, 2017 
KeyBank Center, Buffalo, NY.

CANADIENS
Montreal

teamlogo_canadiens

3-2

SABRES
Buffalo

(AP Photo/Jeffrey T. Barnes)

Lineup

Forward lines and defense pairings 

Pacioretty – Drouin – Gallagher
Hudon – Plekanec – Lehkonen
Galchenyuk – Danault – Shaw
Byron – De La Rose – Hemsky

Mete – Weber
Alzner – Petry
Benn – Streit

Goaltenders

Price
Montoya

Scratches

Torrey Mitchell, Joe Morrow, Brandon Davidson 

Injuries

David Schlemko (hand)

Game Report

The Canadiens started the season with a win, heavily relying on Carey Price with an outstanding 43-save performance. Price also was perfect in the shootout, blanking Jacob Josefson, Jason Pominville and Sam Reinhart.

So, the more things change, the more they stay the same? Well, not fully.

The Canadiens did control the game for significant stretches but penalties interrupted their momentum. Some of those penalties were earned — Ales Hemsky may have hurt his chances for two consecutive starts — and some were not, such as the preposterous call on Andrew Shaw. The guys in stripes also missed Nathan Beaulieu’s well-placed elbow in the face of Jacob De La Rose. Post-game it was reported that De La Rose had suffered a broken nose.

Tomas Plekanec was the most noticeable forward, playing a very effective thirteen and a half minutes. Max Pacioretty led the Canadiens with six shots on goal and scored his first of the season. Phillip Danault woke up from his slumber that lasted the pre-season plus two periods just in time to take advantage of a lumbering Robin Lehner. Jonathan Drouin assisted on the captain’s marker and scored the game-deciding goal.

On defense, Shea Weber was a beast, playing almost 30 minutes of dominating hockey. Weber led the Canadiens in both hits and blocked shots while picking up his first point of the season. Weber’s partner, Victor Mete, was unremarkable, which is a very good thing for a 19-year-old rookie making his NHL debut. And Mete’s quickness was a big asset against a very speedy Sabres team.

The Canadiens power-play looked very good. But you will recall that it was top-five in the league early last season until opponents started defending Weber. The challenge will be to be less predictable this year, and it would appear that the Habs have the players capable of doing that.

On the other hand, Montreal’s penalty-kill was not pretty. With defenders practically stepping on each other, Carey Price was left alone to face too many quality scoring chances.

Concerns about the Canadiens defense that began in the pre-season only became that much more apparent tonight. Jeff Petry did not have a banner game. Karl Alzner and Jordie Benn had good moments but struggled at times. Mark Streit is no longer an NHL defenseman, and it’s not even close.

Carey Price was brilliant. Should it have been necessary for him to bring his A+ game on the first night of the season? No, the Habs were facing the Sabres. The opposition will get tougher, and quickly.

~~~

▲     Carey Price, Tomas Plekanec, Shea Weber, Victor Mete, Max Pacioretty, Jonathan Drouin, Jacob De La Rose

▼     Mark Streit, Paul Byron, Jeff Petry, Karl Alzner, Ales Hemsky

 Statistics 
CANADIENS   SABRES
40 Shots 45
 51% Face-offs  49%
0-for-4  Power Play 1-for-5 
10 Penalty Minutes 8
17 Hits 20
63  Corsi For  69
 Scoring
 FINAL 1 2 3 OT SO T
 Canadiens (1-0-0) 1 0 1 0 1 3
 Sabres (0-0-1) 1 1 0 0 0 2
Scorers Goalies
  • MTL: Pacioretty (1), Danault (1) – SHG, Game deciding goal by Drouin
  • BUF: Pominville (1) – PPG, Pominville (2)
  • MTL: Price (W) 1-0-0
  • BUF: Lehner (L) 0-0-1
 NHL Three Stars

NHL3stars
 

  1. Jason Pominville  BUF
  2. Carey Price  MTL
  3. Tomas Plekanec  MTL

 Video Highlights 
 Post-game Press Conference
Coach Claude Julien

  • “[Carey Price] was obviously good tonight, there’s no doubt when you face 45 shots and then you have to stand up in the shootout. There’s no doubt he was our key player, but I can say the same thing about the other goaltender, he made some key saves for them too.”

Max Pacioretty

  • “He played really well. We had a lot of chances, and [Jonathan Drouin] had a lot of chances. It was a good start, but there are some areas we’d like to improve in. We had a lot of scoring chances, and with chemistry I think we can be even better at converting them.”

Quotes courtesy of NHL.com

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  • zak

    Before dissing Byron consider his line mates. This is a guy IMO Julien trusts to put anywhere in the line up. He will probably be the guy who gets moved around the most this year. Him and Shaw and Danault played very well together in exhibition. That would be my 3rd line and my 4th line would be Chucky, De La Rose and Sherbak. This is no shight to Chucky. In the one game Sherbak and Chucky and Holland played together I thought they were a hand full.

    • Seems to be a bit of a contradiction in your comment, zak. If Byron can be trusted to play anywhere in the lineup, why does he need specific linemates to play well? In Thursday’s game, it seemed odd that Claude Julien matched his fourth line so often against the Sabres’ first line. And when he did, there were problems for the Canadiens. Both Paul Byron and Ales Hemsky were clearly overmatched. The only member of the fourth line who looked good was Jacob De La Rose. He had a solid game in limited minutes given his injury.

      With respect to Alex Galchenyuk, it is a disservice to the Canadiens to place him on the fourth line. He has to be playing more than 10 minutes a game. While Nikita Scherbak may indeed match well with Galchenyuk’s style of play, Nikita needs another year in the AHL.