Allen shuts the door as Habs edge Sabres in shootout to avoid playoff elimination
Brendan Gallagher and the Montreal Canadiens rallied back to avoid playoff elimination with less than three weeks left in their season. The Buffalo Sabres, meanwhile, are running out of chances to stay in the Eastern Conference wild-card hunt.
Gallagher forced overtime by scoring his 200th career goal, and Michael Pezzetta scored the decisive shootout goal in a 4-3 win over the Sabres in Buffalo on Monday night.
“It’s one of those things I think we earned that chance. We weren’t fantastic but we did enough on the road tonight to get a win,” Gallagher said. “Smiles all around.”
The Canadiens could laugh, especially after Pezzetta celebrated his goal by putting his stick between his legs and riding it like a wooden horse — much like former NHL tough guy Dave (Tiger) Williams did during his 14-year NHL career spanning the 1970s and ’80s.
“I’m not sure we’ll see that again. One of a kind,” said Gallagher. “I’d be worried about falling over.”
Pezzetta scored by driving in from the right circle to beat Eric Comrie inside the far post. Buffalo’s Jack Quinn scored in the fourth shootout round, but was matched by Montreal’s Jesse Ylonen, whose shot from in tight managed to trickle in through Comrie.
WATCH | Pezzetta wins it for Montreal:
Canadiens edge Sabres with Pezzetta’s shootout winner
Michael Pezzetta scores the decisive goal in the sixth round of the shootout and lifts Montreal to a 4-3 victory over Buffalo.
Jordan Harris and Alex Belzile also scored for Montreal, and Jake Allen stopped 30 shots through overtime, while allowing one goal on six shootout attempts.
Montreal would have been eliminated from playoff contention for a second straight season — and two years removed from reaching the Stanley Cup Final — with any type of loss.
The Sabres squandered a 3-2 third-period lead to drop to 3-6-3 in their past 12. Buffalo also blew a chance to move to within four points of idle Pittsburgh, which holds the eighth and final playoff spot.
WATCH | Gallagher’s equalizer:
Canadiens’ Gallagher ties game in 3rd period with 200th career goal
Montreal forward Brendan Gallagher records the 200th goal of his career and ties the game against Buffalo at 3-3.
“Just a little hesitation,” forward J.J. Peterka said of the Sabres third-period lapse. “We didn’t play with much energy and we didn’t play that aggressive as we played the two periods before. I think that was the difference.”
Buffalo’s Lukas Rousek scored a goal and added an assist while filling in for leading scorer Tage Thompson, who did not play due to an upper body injury. Peterka and defenceman Riley Stillman also scored, and Comrie stopped 38 shots through overtime, and allowed two goals on six shootout attempts.
Montreal blew two one-goal leads to fall behind 3-2 on Stillman’s goal at the 8:31 mark of the second period.
Gallagher scored on the fly by using Sabres defenceman Rasmus Dahlin as a screen to snap in a shot inside the far left post. With the goal, Gallagher tied Bobby Rousseau for 24th on the Canadiens career scoring list.
“I liked the way we corrected ourselves, it’s a sign of maturity, in the way we stayed on task,” Canadiens coach Martin St. Louis said, in recalling how the Canadiens recently unravelled in an 8-4 loss two weeks ago to Colorado, which plays a similar uptempo style as Buffalo.