Canadiens 6, Sabres 1

Associated Press | Wednesday, 08.06.2014 / 4:47 AM

MONTREAL (AP) - A rough start to the season got a bit smoother for Lars Eller and David Desharnais on Saturday.

Eller had a goal and two assists and Desharnais scored a pair to lead the Montreal Canadiens to a 6-1 win over the Buffalo Sabres.

"We've been struggling a bit the last couple of games so I think it was relief for Davey, too, to see the puck go in twice," said Eller of his and Desharnais' first goals of the season, just 28 seconds apart in the second period. "It's a great feeling to score and a great feeling to win."

After suiting up for the Canadiens' season opener, Eller was a healthy scratch the next two games. He returned to the lineup last Sunday, inserted on the wing with Desharnais and Erik Cole, with Max Pacioretty sidelined following an appendectomy a day earlier.

Desharnais, meanwhile, had struggled to find his breakout form from a season ago, a campaign that saw him pile up 60 points in 81 games.

"I've got to be better, I want to be better," he said. "There's nobody else that's going to feel sorry for me so I've just got to be better and I was tonight. I just want to keep going."

Rene Bourque's pair and a goal from rookie Brendan Gallagher completed the scoring for Montreal (5-2-0), which is averaging 4.4 goals in its five wins.

Carey Price made 30 saves for the Canadiens for his fifth win of the season.

The game marked the season debut for Montreal defenseman P.K. Subban, who signed a new contract Monday after sitting out the team's first four games while negotiations went on.

"When you're playing your first game and the team has a great start it's sort of a relief," said Subban, who picked up his first point with an assist on Desharnais' second goal. "I'm just happy with the win here today."

Subban admitted he didn't "feel too great" in his return, recognizing his timing was off. Canadiens coach Michel Therrien planned to ease the blue-liner into the lineup after his long layoff, dressing seven on the back end.

Subban finished the game with 18:01 of ice time, fourth among Montreal's defensemen.

"It's important for us to manage his return and his ice time. Unfortunately there aren't a lot practices available like the others had," Therrien said. "We felt the best way to get him back in was to dress seven defensemen.

"He did very well in his first game."

After a big win in a wild game against the Boston Bruins on Thursday, the Sabres (3-4-1) lost for the fifth time in their last six games. Goaltender Ryan Miller made 17 saves over two periods before being replaced in the third by backup Jhonas Enroth.

"We didn't have our `A' game right off the bat. We started in the second but it was too late," Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said. "It's a collective effort. You can't point fingers at anybody."

Bourque injected some life into what had been an uneventful first period with Montreal's 10th power-play goal of the season. Andrei Markov's stretch pass - tipped along the way by Tomas Plekanec - found Brian Gionta along the right boards. Gionta waited before passing it on to Bourque, who drove to the net for his second of the season.

Montreal took a 2-0 lead for the fifth time in its seven games early in the second. Gallagher and fellow rookie Alex Galchenyuk completed a nifty 2-on-1 that Gallagher capped with his third of the season as the puck went in off Sabres defenseman Christian Ehrhoff at 2:03.

Desharnais finally got his first at 10:08. Just seconds after Sabres forward Tyler Ennis hit the crossbar, the diminutive Canadiens center took a pass from Eller in the high slot and fired a shot past Miller.

Eller added to Buffalo's misery with his first goal of the season just 28 seconds later.

Plekanec set up Bourque's second goal of the game at 1:22 of the third. The Czech center showed patience on a 2-on-1, waiting out Buffalo defenseman Mike Weber's attempt to block the pass before easily placing it on Bourque's stick.

Thomas Vanek broke Price's shutout bid with a short-handed goal at 3:01.

Desharnais picked up his second of the season on the power play at 12:43.

NOTES: D Yannick Weber and F Ryan White were scratches for the Canadiens, who went with 11 forwards and seven defensemen. ... Therrien acknowledged "there's a chance" that Pacioretty, who practiced with his teammates on Friday, could be back in the lineup on Sunday. ... Buffalo's one shot in the first was its fewest in a regulation period since Oct. 7, 2011, against Anaheim when the Sabres had none in the third. ... Montreal last allowed one shot in a period Oct. 13, 2011, against Calgary.

Scoring Summary
1st Period
19:52MTL PPG - Rene Bourque (2) ASST: Brian Gionta (2), Tomas Plekanec (2) 1 - 0 MTL
2nd Period
02:03MTL Brendan Gallagher (3) ASST: Alex Galchenyuk (5), Francis Bouillon (3) 2 - 0 MTL
10:08MTL David Desharnais (1) ASST: Lars Eller (1) 3 - 0 MTL
10:36MTL Lars Eller (1) ASST: Alex Galchenyuk (6), Tomas Kaberle (1) 4 - 0 MTL
3rd Period
01:22MTL Rene Bourque (3) ASST: Tomas Plekanec (3) 5 - 0 MTL
03:01BUF SHG - Thomas Vanek (7) ASST: Marcus Foligno (4) 5 - 1 MTL
12:43MTL PPG - David Desharnais (2) ASST: Lars Eller (2), P.K. Subban (1) 6 - 1 MTL
Three Stars of the Game
Alex Galchenyuk
Alex Galchenyuk
G: 0Shots: 3
A: 2Hits: 0
PTS: 2PIM: 0
+/-: 2TOI: 15:03
Rene Bourque
Rene Bourque
G: 2Shots: 5
A: 0Hits: 0
PTS: 2PIM: 0
+/-: 0TOI: 17:45
Carey Price
Carey Price
SA: 31TOI: 59:45
GA: 1EV: 22-22
PIM: 0PP: 5-5
SV%: .968SH: 3-4
Penalty Summary
1st Period
01:34BUF Tyler Ennis  Tripping against  Brendan Gallagher
02:40MTL David Desharnais  Holding against  Matt Ellis
07:12BUF Thomas Vanek  Hooking against  Rene Bourque
18:15BUF Marcus Foligno  Hooking against  Rene Bourque
2nd Period
02:27MTL Alexei Emelin  Tripping against  Thomas Vanek
06:35BUF Christian Ehrhoff  Hi-sticking against  Tomas Plekanec
07:43MTL P.K. Subban  Hooking against  Cody Hodgson
15:30MTL Lars Eller  Tripping against  John Scott
3rd Period
01:23BUF Steve Ott  Unsportsmanlike conduct
01:23BUF Steve Ott  Fighting (maj) against  Brandon Prust
01:23MTL Brandon Prust  Fighting (maj) against  Steve Ott
07:08BUF Jason Pominville  Interference on goalkeeper against  Carey Price
07:34BUF Jordan Leopold  Boarding against  David Desharnais
07:38MTL David Desharnais  Holding the stick against  Matt Ellis
08:32MTL Alex Galchenyuk  Too many men/ice - bench
11:24BUF John Scott  Roughing against  P.K. Subban
shots by period
Team Stats
Power Plays0/62/8
Faceoff Wins3037
Blocked Shots1210
Penalty Minutes2117
3J. LeopoldD00-31222:03
6M. WeberD00-12023:58
8C. McCormickC00-1008:55
9S. OttC0000713:15
10C. EhrhoffD0003226:17
19C. HodgsonC00-34016:28
21D. StaffordR00-13017:53
25M. GrigorenkoC00-13012:54
26T. VanekL1004217:20
29J. PominvilleR00-14220:32
32J. ScottL000025:23
37M. EllisL000309:02
44A. SekeraD000003:37
52A. SulzerD0012021:06
55J. HechtC00-20015:19
57T. MyersD00-30016:56
63T. EnnisC0000217:48
82M. FolignoL01-12216:13
1J. Enroth911.81820:00
30R. Miller1721.81040:00
8B. PrustL0011510:37
14T. PlekanecC0205020:15
17R. BourqueR2005017:45
20C. ArmstrongR0000011:18
21B. GiontaR0101016:06
22T. KaberleD010107:28
26J. GorgesD0000019:05
27A. GalchenyukC0223015:03
32T. MoenL0001011:07
51D. DesharnaisC2014418:07
55F. BouillonD0131014:30
61R. DiazD00-10018:04
72E. ColeL0013018:45
73B. GallagherR1023011:12
74A. EmelinD0020218:28
76P. SubbanD0111218:01
79A. MarkovD0010024:25
81L. EllerC1223217:59
31C. Price3031.96859:45