Canadiens fall short in wild one in Buffalo

Friday, 02.03.2007 / 12:00 AM / News
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Canadiens fall short in wild one in Buffalo
Montreal drops to ninth place in Eastern Conference

The Canadiens lost for the first time in regulation this season at HSBC Arena.

BUFFALO (AP) - Dainius Zubrus was aware that his new team was good. He just didn't know how good.

Zubrus was held without a point in his Sabres debut, but it didn't matter in Buffalo's 8-5 win over the Montreal Canadiens on Friday night. Acquired from Washington in a trade deadline deal Tuesday, Zubrus was more impressed with Buffalo's high-octane offense than his own play - an offense that leads the league in goals, and has scored five or more goals in each of the past five games.

"I didn't realize how fast this game can be," Zubrus said. "I talked to the coach before and he said we play at a high pace. They jump and they go to score goals. I think now I'll know a little bit more what to expect."

With the win, Buffalo took over the top spot in the league with 91 points, passing idle Nashville.

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Michael Ryan scored his first two goals of his NHL career, Thomas Vanek also had two goals, and Derek Roy had a goal and three assists in the win. Dmitri Kalinin, Teppo Numminen and Drew Stafford also scored for the Sabres, who improved to 9-0-1 in their past 10 games at home.

"It's unbelievable," said Ryan, recalled from AHL Rochester just over two weeks ago after a rash of Buffalo injuries. "I've never really been a part of anything like this."

The high-scoring affair featured seven combined second-period goals, including four by the Canadiens, and five instances overall in which two goals were scored in 39 seconds or less.

"I though it was a good game ... great for the fans," said Roy, who tied a career high with four points. "We scored a goal and then they would come back and score another one. It seemed like the game would never end."

Buffalo goalie Ryan Miller made 27 saves to win for the fourth time in the past five games.

Tomas Plekanec scored twice and added an assist, and Michael Ryder, Radek Bonk and Mark Streit also scored for the Canadiens, who have lost two straight and three of four.

Kalinin opened the scoring 1:20 into the game, and Ryan followed with his first career goal 20 seconds later, tapping in Adam Mair's feed from the goal line.

"We needed a good start, but 2 minutes into the game we're down by two goals," Plekanec said. "You can't win a game like that, especially here."

Numminen made it 3-0 for Buffalo 2 1/2 minutes into the second, but Ryder cut the deficit to 3-1 with a power-play goal at 7:06.

Ryan increased Buffalo's lead to 4-1 28 seconds later with his second goal of the game, coming with Buffalo short-handed.

Montreal responded with goals by Bonk - on the power play - and Streit in a 23-second span 9 minutes in to cut the lead to 4-3.

Roy made it 5-3 with a power-play goal with less than 3 minutes left in the second, but the two-goal lead was short-lived after Plekanec's goal made it 5-4 only 21 seconds later. Roy's goal snapped Buffalo's 0-for-32 skid with the man advantage against Montreal this season.

Vanek pushed Buffalo's lead to 6-4 before Montreal made it 6-5 on Plekanec's power-play goal at 8:56 of the third. Stafford gave Buffalo a 7-5 lead 39 seconds later, and Vanek capped the scoring with his team-leading 34th goal, an empty-net score with 24 seconds remaining.

"This team tries to score goals with five guys," said Zubrus, who finished with a plus-2 rating while playing on a line with Ryan and Mair. "It was a lot of fun."

David Aebischer, making his second start in the past three games, made 22 saves for the Canadiens.

"These kinds of games will happen," Canadiens coach Guy Carbonneau said. "We were able to come back a lot of times, but every time we came back we made mistakes on top of mistakes."

Notes: Montreal LW Christopher Higgins missed his second straight game because of the flu. ... Sabres C Chris Drury missed his third straight game because of a concussion sustained against Ottawa on Feb. 22. He is hoping to return Wednesday when the Sabres host Colorado. ... Canadiens LW Alexander Perezhogin didn't play after being hit near his right ear by a deflected puck in practice on Wednesday. ... Buffalo LW Andrew Peters sustained an upper body injury and is day-to-day.