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Montreal at Buffalo

Canadiens 3, Sabres 2

CBSSports.com wire reports
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BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The Montreal Canadiens are hoping they avoid what leading scorer Tomas Plekanec has, but catch some of what Benoit Pouliot's currently possessing.

With Plekanec out because of flulike symptoms, Pouliot displayed his scoring touch by tallying twice, and Jeff Halpern added a goal and two assists in the Canadiens' 3-2 victory over the slumping Buffalo Sabres on Friday.

"I'm going to try and not talk to [Plekanec] for a while," Pouliot joked. "When your top line is missing one of the best forwards, other guys have to step up. Today we did, and maybe tomorrow someone else will."

It also helped that the Canadiens had workhorse goalie Carey Price in net for the 12th time this season. Price made 29 saves -- including 15 in the first period when Montreal escaped with a 1-1 tie -- to help the Canadiens improve to 8-4-1 and snap a two-game losing streak.

"He was phenomenal," Halpern said. "His rebound control was excellent, and he smothered the puck when he had to. He's giving us a chance to win every night."

Price set the tone with consecutive stops on Sabres sniper Thomas Vanek from in tight midway through the first, then helped preserve the win when he robbed Tyler Ennis on a partial breakaway early in the third.

When Price did give up a rebound, Buffalo couldn't beat the Montreal defenders to the loose puck.

"Our guys did a great job on that," Price said. "Anything I left out or anything that squirted out, our guys came back hard."

Price was able to make the big save at the key time. The same couldn't be said for Buffalo goalie Patrick Lalime, who was playing for injured starter Ryan Miller. Lalime was unable to keep out Pouliot's stoppable shot from the outside edge of the left circle that proved to be the winner with 2:48 left in the second period.

Lalime wound up with 29 saves for the Sabres, 0-6-1 at home and 3-9-2 overall.

"If we're going to get out of this, we need that one," Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff said about Lalime's whiff on Pouliot's tally. "We need that one."

Miller wasn't in uniform for the second straight game because of a lower-body injury, and also will sit out Saturday night when the Sabres play at Toronto.

Mike Grier had a goal and assist, and Jordan Leopold also scored for Buffalo, which hasn't been winless in its first seven games at home since 1993-94.

"It's frustrating when you're losing games," Grier said. "You're in it to win, and we all take pride in being professionals. We think we're a good team, but right now we're shooting ourselves in the foot."

Grier opened the scoring with his first goal of the season with 2:42 left in the first period. Off an odd-man rush, Grier accepted a pass from Ennis in the lower portion of the right circle, pulled the puck to his backhand, and slid it past Price.

The Canadiens tied it 1:22 later when Halpern snapped in a shot from the slot.

Buffalo regained the lead 9:02 into the second when Leopold swatted home a loose puck during a scramble in front, but Pouliot tied it at 2 just 46 seconds later when he pushed the puck in on the backhand from in tight.

Pouliot gave Montreal the lead for good when his second-period shot went in on the short side.

"Sometimes I don't shoot the puck enough, but tonight on that last goal I just put it on the net," Pouliot said. "Sometimes you never know what happens."

Notes

Buffalo RW Drew Stafford missed most of the second period and all of the third after sustaining an upper-body injury that Ruff said will force the forward to miss some time. ... Montreal coach Jacques Martin didn't know if Plekanec would be able to recover in time to play Saturday against Ottawa. ... Ruff coached his 998th NHL game. ... Montreal LW Mathieu Darche had two assists. ... Buffalo's Jochen Hecht and Rob Niedermayer are the only two Sabres forwards who have played at least 13 games without scoring a goal. ... Plekanec ranks second on Montreal with five goals. ... The Canadiens will play six of their next seven at home, where they have a 3-2-1 mark.

Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
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Scoreboard
Montreal  (8-4-1) «1203
Buffalo (3-9-2)1102
Three Stars
B. Pouliot
MON


Goals: 2
Assist(s): 0
M. Grier
BUF


Goals: 1
Assist(s): 1
A. Markov
MON


Goals: 0
Assist(s): 1
Scoring Summary
1ST PERIOD
17:18 - Mike Grier (1), Backhand Shot. Assist: Ennis, Montador
18:40 - Jeff Halpern (4), Wrist Shot. Assist: Darche, Gorges
2ND PERIOD
09:02 - Jordan Leopold (4), Wrist Shot. Assist: Grier, Gaustad
09:48 - Benoit Pouliot (3), Wrist Shot. Assist: Darche, Halpern
17:12 - Benoit Pouliot (4), Slap Shot. Assist: Halpern, Markov
3RD PERIOD
None
Penalty Summary
1ST PERIOD
05:46Boyd, 2 min, Holding
08:59Eller, 2 min, Bench - Too Many Men on the Ice
13:58Stafford, 2 min, Unsportsmanlike Conduct
2ND PERIOD
03:27Kaleta, 2 min, Roughing
03:27Gorges, 2 min, Roughing
03:27Markov, 2 min, Roughing
3RD PERIOD
01:28Cammalleri, 2 min, Holding
05:56Sekera, 2 min, Hooking
08:32Rivet, 2 min, Interference
Shots On Goal
 123T
MON1015777
BUF1611490
Goalies
GoalieMINSSGA
Carey Price60:00292
Patrick Lalime59:03293
Game Information
Attendance - 18026
Referees - Stephen Walkom, Greg Kimmerly
Linesmen - Bryan Pancich, Brad Kovachik
 
Other Games
Bos 3 Final
Wash 5
NYR 3 Final
NJ 0
Car 4 Final
Fla 7
Cal 1 Final
Min 2
Pho 3 Final
Dal 6
Det 3 Final
Edm 1
Pitt 2 Final
Ana 3