Drouin scores to seal Canadiens 3-2 shootout win over Sabres
BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — Jonathan Drouin scored the lone shootout goal in rallying the Montreal Canadiens to a 3-2 victory over the Buffalo Sabres on Thursday night in the season opener for both teams.
Phillip Danault forced overtime by scoring a short-handed goal on a wraparound with 11:59 left. Max Pacioretty also scored for Montreal. Carey Price stopped 43 shots through overtime and all three shootout attempts following an offseason in which he signed an eight-year, $84 million contract.
Jason Pominville scored twice in his first game back with Buffalo since being reacquired in a trade with Minnesota in June. Robin Lehner stopped 38 shots and the Sabres earned one point in Phil Housley’s debut as coach.
Jack Eichel set up Pominville’s second goal with a perfect cross-ice feed two days after the 20-year-old franchise player signed an eight-year, $80 million extension.
Drouin settled the shootout by driving directly at Lehner. Faking to his left to catch Lehner leaning, Drouin went to his backhand and deposited the puck into the open right side.
Drouin also had an assist in his first game with Montreal since the Quebec-born player was acquired in an offseason trade with Tampa Bay.
Danault’s goal caught Lehner by surprise. Montreal defenseman Shea Weber dumped the puck in behind Buffalo’s net, Danault got to puck and wrapped it in just inside the right post and Lehner’s skate.
Pominville opened the scoring with a power-play goal 8:30 into the first period. The former Sabres captain spent the four-plus seasons in Minnesota before being was acquired along with defenseman Marco Scandella.
Pominville then put the Sabres ahead for good 22 second into the second period. Eichel set up by carrying puck along the right boards and snapping a sharp pass through the middle to Pominville, who one-timed it in to the left the net.
The only thing initially missing was the familiar banner that once adorned the arena wall that read, “Pominville Population” and a number, which was updated each time he scored. It was finally erected before the start of the third period.
Pominville’s last two-goal game in a Sabres uniform came in a 4-3 shootout win over New Jersey on March 2, 2013, about a month before he was traded to Minnesota.
Buffalo is coming off a tumultuous offseason in which general manager Tim Murray and coach Dan Bylsma were fired after the team missed the playoffs for a sixth consecutive season. Jason Botterill took over as GM in May and a month later hired Housley, the Hall of Fame defenseman who opened his career in with Sabres as an 18-year-old in 1982.
NOTES: The Sabres elected not to choose a captain to start the season and instead named four assistant captains: Forwards Eichel, Ryan O’Reilly and Kyle Okposo, and defenseman Zach Bogosian. ... Canadiens free-agent addition, D Karl Alzner, extended his consecutive games streak to 541 — the fifth-longest active streak, and one short of matching Brendan Morrison for 17th on NHL list. ... Sabres had 10 players who weren’t on the team last season. ... Bogosian did not play due to a lower-body injury.
Montreal: At New York Rangers on Friday.
Buffalo: At New York Islanders on Saturday.
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