The Buffalo Sabres and Montreal Canadiens are tied at 1-1 after 40 minutes at First Niagara Center.
Tyler Myers seemingly coughed up the puck at least once every shift in the early going, but Montreal transitioned from a missed Thomas Vanek opportunity to open the scoring. Rene Bourque passed the puck up to Tomas Plekanec, who backed Myers down from the blue line to inside the left faceoff circle before wristing a shot over Miller's shoulder at 4:11. But only 15 seconds later, Jochen Hecht fed Steve Ott, and he beat Peter Budaj to the the score with his second goal of the season.
Buffalo got some good shifts from Drew Stafford, Tyler Ennis and Marcus Foligno, who generated a handful of good scoring chances and upped the physical play. They outplayed the first line early. Thomas Vanek seemed a step behind, while Jason Pominville made a few bad puck choices, including passing the puck to the wing while standing alone in front of the Montreal net. But Montreal was able to keep the action in Buffalo's end much of the period, generating 13 shots. Buffalo mustered five shots late in the period but couldn't beat Budaj again.
The Sabres controlled play early in the second period – including a two-man advantage during which they held court in front of the net at will – but still couldn't take the lead. Buffalo has seven shots in the first six minutes and 10 after the first eight of the period without a conversion. Those unconverted chances bit the Sabres at 12:31, when Brendan Gallagher took a Brandon Prust pass from the corner and wristed it past Miller to give Montreal the lead. But like after the first goal, Buffalo answered on the next shift, with Tyler Ennis taking a Marcus Foligno pass and skating up the left wing before putting the puck past Budaj at 13:06 for his fourth goal of the season.
Buffalo failed to convert all four of its powerplay chances in the period, though, as Budaj made 17 saves in the second period alone. And Montreal made good on its two-man advantage late in the period, with P.K. Subban taking an Andrei Markov pass in the slot and rifling it past Miller to make the score 3-2 entering the locker rooms. Buffalo was outshooting Montreal after 40 minutes, 28-25.
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