MONTREAL -- Cristobal Huet turned a busy first period into his best outing of the season.
The 32-year-old goalie stopped 16 shots in the first period on his way to his 14th career shutout. It was his first since Nov. 28 when he beat Florida 1-0 in a shootout.
"They tried to shoot a lot in the first and create some rebounds and second chances off my pads and it gave me a little bit of confidence after that," Huet said.
Plekanec scored his fourth goal of the season on a 2-on-1 at 13:04 of the second.
"We didn't play a great game tonight, but thanks to Huet, we ended up with a win," Plekanec said.
The Canadiens, who have won six of eight (6-1-1), were outshot 9-1 in the third period before Bryan Smolinski scored into an empty net with 21.8 seconds remaining.
"It was a very good game by both teams," Smolinski said. "Both teams were patient. Huet played outstanding, and Ryan Miller played very well, as well."
Miller stopped 17 shots for Buffalo, which has lost three in a row (0-2-1), including a 4-2 loss to Florida on Friday.
"We did a good job against a team that's not going to give up much by not giving up much to them," Miller said. "Huet was very good. I thought we got inside a few times and he came up big. You can't be too mad, usually, about those games but it just comes at a time when we're looking for something to go right and hopefully the guys aren't going to take this too hard."
Montreal has yet to trail after the first period through 14 games this season. Huet did his part to keep that streak intact as the Sabres enjoyed a 16-8 margin in shots in the opening period.
The Canadiens' defense stepped up in the second, limiting Buffalo to four shots.
An odd-man rush led to Montreal breaking through for the game's first goal.
Moved up to the second line, Canadiens right wing Andrei Kostitsyn put a centering pass to Plekanec, who backhanded the puck past Ryan Miller with Sabres right wing Maxim Afinogenov checking him from behind.
"He made a great play on that goal," Plekanec said.
Afinogenov put a shot just wide of the left post in the dying moments of a power play late in the second.
Sabres center Adam Mair left after injuring his right leg in the second period. He did not return.
- Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff used his timeout with 27 seconds remaining in the third.
- Sabres LW Thomas Vanek ended a four-game points streak in which he had two goals and three assists.
- Canadiens LW Mikhail Grabovski was a healthy scratch for a third straight game.