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Vanek scores 2 in Sabres’ win over Canadiens

March 24, 2013

MONTREAL (AP) — Thomas Vanek helped the Buffalo Sabres make the most of their limited scoring chances to pull out another road win against the Montreal Canadiens.

Vanek scored two goals to lead the Sabres to a 2-1 win over the Canadiens on Saturday night. It was the Sabres’ third straight win in a run that began with an overtime victory in Montreal on Tuesday.

Montreal outshot Buffalo 39-18, getting double-digit shots in each period — including 16 in the third.

“That’s a good team over there. They just keep coming at you,” Vanek said. “They’re a good puck possession team but I thought we kept them outside. We could have played a bit more offensively in the third and done some damage ourselves but in the end it’s a win so we’ll take it.”

Ryan Miller finished with 38 saves as Buffalo pulled two points behind eighth-place Carolina.

“We know we have a long way to go. Any time you can pick up two points and consecutively three games in a row, it feels good. But there’s a lot of work left,” Vanek said. “We’ve just got to pick up points and see what happens at the end. But we need help as well.”

Michael Ryder scored the lone goal for Montreal, and Carey Price made 16 saves.

After a slow start in Tuesday’s 3-2 loss to the Sabres, the Canadiens had their legs moving in the opening period, outshooting Buffalo 13-5. Montreal had chances late in the first on a delayed penalty call against the Sabres but were denied by Miller.

“I thought we played a solid game. We dictated the game, we played hard, the guys were ready to play,” said Canadiens coach Michel Therrien. “I liked our intensity. We were competing hard to the net and to loose pucks — that’s what you ask from your team. The result wasn’t on our side tonight.”

Vanek broke the scoreless deadlock at 10:25 of the second period with Buffalo on a two-man advantage.

Shortly after Mike Blunden was called for interference, defenceman P.K. Subban was whistled for delay of game for shooting the puck over the glass. The Canadiens pleaded with the officials that the puck hit the glass on the way out but to no avail.

“It’s bad luck,” Therrien said of the call.

Defenseman Christian Ehrhoff found a passing lane for the Sabres and fired a shot from the point that deflected in off Vanek for his 15th of the season.

Vanek struck again in the final minute of the second off a Canadiens turnover. Brendan Gallagher broke in on a pass attempt, but the Sabres were there to intercept the puck.

Taking a pass from Tyler Ennis, Vanek finished off the play with some slick stick work to beat Price a second time.

On Tuesday, the Canadiens rallied from a 2-0 deficit to force overtime. This time, they could only manage Michael Ryder’s third period power-play goal. It was his 10th score of the season, but first back in Montreal while playing for the Canadiens since March 11, 2008.

“It’s very frustrating (to lose a game like that) but we have to find ways to be resilient. We have to find ways to get the two points, even when things maybe aren’t going our way, bounces don’t go our way,” defenseman Josh Gorges said. “We had a good push at the end but we can’t get down 2-0 and hope to climb back every time. We’ve got to try to get the early lead.”

Miller didn’t start in the teams’ last meeting and was pulled in a 6-1 Montreal rout back in early February. His teammates helped make life easier in front of him, blocking 31 shots.

“I was happy with (my game). It’s been a bit of a tough go the last few weeks so I need to start collecting myself and give these guys a chance to get these kinds of wins. They did a nice job of sticking with it, getting to the net and getting the lead,” he said.

NOTES: The Canadiens scratched defenseman Tomas Kaberle (healthy) and forward Ryan White (lower body). Montreal claimed C Jeff Halpern off waivers from the New York Rangers on Saturday. He didn’t arrive in Montreal in time for the game. ... Forward Drew Stafford and defenseman John Scott were healthy scratches for Buffalo. Defenseman Andrej Sekera remained sidelined with an injury. ... Buffalo clinched the season series. The Sabres haven’t lost a season series to Montreal since 2007-08.