MONTREAL – After an uncharacteristically slow start, the Habs flipped the switch on Buffalo and stormed back to earn a point in OT.
In their Tuesday night game against the Sabres at the Bell Centre, the Habs managed to both prove and disprove the old saying, ‘It’s not how you start, but how you finish that matters’. Their finish, one that saw them explode in the second and third periods to dominate Buffalo 26-8 in shots and score two clutch goals, earned them a much deserved point. But a slow start that saw them fall behind by two goals early in the match is what cost them the second.
“I just think we were sitting back a little too much. They were coming at us hard and we were a half-second late reacting to a lot of things. They had some good chances but ultimately we feel that it was us that made the mistakes,” said Brendan Gallagher, the architect of the Habs’ first goal of the night and a constant source of energy for his team as they fought to pull even with the Sabres.
“We weren’t happy with the way we were playing at the start, but we stayed with it and stayed focused and we were able to get back in the game. We try and use the crowd as much as we can,” added the 20-year-old, who along with the rest of the Canadiens proved once again on Tuesday night that while the Habs may be down over the course of a game, they’re never out. “We’re looking at what we need to do better. Once the third period came around, we started to get on the forecheck and get our legs going a little bit.”
After battling back to tie the game at two – not to mention coming inches away from pulling ahead on more than one occasion in the third – an unfortunate penalty led to an overtime goal from the Sabres. While far from the culprit behind the night’s final score, P.K. Subban spoke with the media post-game about the penalty call and the importance of moving past it.
“It’s tough in overtime when you’re sitting in the box and they score. I obviously didn’t want to put my team down a man at that point in time,” admitted Subban, who of late has been playing the best hockey of his career, putting up points at a frantic pace and logging a plus-5 to date this season. “The call was made and I have to swallow that pill, but I had the support of all my teammates and it always helps when guys are supporting you and saying to put it behind you.”
For a second consecutive night, a highlight of the game for the Habs was forward Colby Armstrong, who struck again offensively, lighting the lamp in back-to-back games by contributing the tying goal.
“It’s great to be scoring. I think our line worked really well tonight and was able to create a lot of chances,” expressed Armstrong, who moved up to the third line for Tuesday’s tilt to play alongside Lars Eller and Alex Galchenyuk. “Lars played an amazing game, he was skating really well and the other team was having a lot of trouble containing him.
“Of course it’s disappointing to have lost that game, but I think we showed a lot of character by coming back from behind like that,” he added. “We walked away with a point and now we have to look ahead and concentrate on being a better team in our next game.”
The Habs will have the chance to do just that when they head to Uniondale in search of a measure of revenge over the Islanders on Thursday.
Justin Fragapane is a writer for canadiens.com.
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