Pacioretty gets hat trick to lift Canadiens over Sabres 5-2
MONTREAL (AP) — Max Pacioretty scored a hat trick, Carey Price made 37 saves and the Montreal Canadiens beat the Buffalo Sabres 5-2 on Tuesday night.
David Desharnais and Paul Byron also scored for Montreal. Alexander Radulov and Phillip Danault each had two assists.
Dmitry Kulikov and Brian Gionta scored for Buffalo late in the third period, and Robin Lehner stopped 30 shots.
Pacioretty scored once per period en route to his second hat trick of the season.
His first of the night made it 1-0 at 17:27 of the first period. The Canadiens captain took a nifty backhand saucer pass from Radulov and roofed the puck on Lehner, who tried a traditional stack-the-pads save but got nowhere near the shot.
Pacioretty added his second at 7:48 of the middle frame, again cashing in a pass from Radulov from behind Lehner’s net.
With Montreal leading 4-0 in the third period, Pacioretty got his stick on a loose puck in a frantic goal-mouth scramble. The goals were his team-leading 22nd, 23rd and 24th of the year.
Montreal is now 11-4-2 in its last 17 games versus Buffalo.
Defenseman Nikita Nesterov made his Canadiens debut after being traded from the Tampa Bay Lightning last week.
Andrei Markov (lower-body injury) played his first game in six weeks. Markov and Nesterov skated together on the third defensive pairing.
Desharnais was also back in the lineup after missing 24 games with a knee injury. After Pacioretty’s first two goals, Desharnais celebrated his return from injury with his fourth goal of the year. The Habs center made it 3-0 for the home side after a bad giveaway by Cody Franson deep in his own zone.
Byron added Montreal’s fourth goal of the evening, completing a tic-tac-toe play started by Artturi Lehkonen, Tomas Plekanec and Markov.
Kulikov broke Price’s shutout bid with a shot from the point with 3:28 remaining in the game, and Gionta added another for Buffalo less than two minutes later.
NOTES: Jeff Petry (flu) was not in the lineup for Montreal. Greg Pateryn got the start in his place. ... Pacioretty has at least a point in 10 straight games versus the Sabres. ... Before puck drop, the Canadiens held a moment of silence for the victims of Sunday’s Quebec City mosque shooting.
Sabres: Host the New York rangers on Thursday night.
Canadiens: Travel to Philadelphia for a game Thursday night.