Going into the All-Star break, the Montreal Canadiens had picked up five of a possible six points. They had their best offensive showing of the season in a 7-2 win over the Red Wings.
Judging from last night's effort against the Sabres, it's safe to say that the break had stalled any momentum the Habs were picking up.
The Canadiens started strong. Just over four minutes in, Max Pacioretty poked a puck by Matt Ellis and broke away on Ryan Miller. Pacioretty's shot was stopped, but he potted home the rebound to give his team a 1-0 lead. The Habs offence would end there.
In period number two, Sabres forward Ville Leino beat Price with a wrister to tie the game at one. Shortly after, PK Subban drew a penalty for slew footing Leino. The Canadiens blueliner was fined $2,500 by the NHL for a similar trip a few weeks back against the Penguins.
In the final frame, Brad Boyes spun around the net and put a perfect pass on the stick of Paul Gaustad. The Sabres centerman was tied up by Hal Gill, but clearly not enough as he managed to redirect it past Carey Price. The Habs had a chance to tie it up but Miller robbed Pacioretty from five feet out. Patrick Kaleta then added another in an empty net. Sabres win 3-1.
Last night's loss is easy to explain. Price showed up. He stopped 37 of 39. Emelin showed up. He led the team with five hits. Finally, as they have all season, the Desharnais line did its job.
The rest of the team, unfortunately, was nowhere to be found.
Fireworks went off after the final whistle as some heated words were exchanged between some Canadiens players and Gaustad. Gaustad was criticized for not coming to Miller's defence after the Milan Lucic incident, which prompted him to ask Pacioretty where Chara was.
The Canadiens are now nine points behind Toronto, who hold the eighth and final playoff spot. The Habs practice today and fly to Newark later this afternoon for a date with the Devils tomorrow night.
Andreas Engqvist, after his latest one-game stint with the Habs, was sent down to Hamilton earlier today. Louis Leblanc was called up in his place.
Despite practicing on the fourth line, Ryan White won't be in the lineup against New Jersey. He is a possibility for this weekend however.
Pacioretty was awarded the Molson Cup for the month of January. He scored seven goals and 10 points in 11 games.
The Forward Lines at Practice for Wednesday:
Cole – Desharnais – Pacioretty
Bourque – Plekanec – Gomez
Blunden – Eller – Kostitsyn
Darche – White - Weber
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