Thomas Vanek nets both Buffalo goals in Sabres' 2-1 win over Canadiens
MONTREAL – Thomas Vanek scored two goals to lead the Buffalo Sabres to a 2-1 win over the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday night.
It was the Sabres' (13-15-4) third straight win in a run that began with an overtime victory in Montreal on Tuesday. Ryan Miller stopped 39 shots in this one for Buffalo.
Michael Ryder scored the lone goal for Montreal (20-6-5), and Carey Price made 16 saves.
The Sabres broke the scoreless deadlock midway through the second period during a 5-on-3 power play. With Mike Blunden and P.K. Subban in the box, the Sabres tried to find a shooting lane. Defenseman Christian Ehrhoff found one at 10:25, firing 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.
Ryder cut the lead in half with his 10th of the season, but first in Montreal since being reacquired. Left all alone in front of Miller, the forward had no trouble tipping in Andrei Markov's point shot on the power play.
It was Ryder's first goal back in Montreal while playing for the Canadiens since March 11, 2008.
After a slow start in their last meeting against the Sabres, the Canadiens had their legs moving in the opening period and held a 13-5 shots advantage.
Consecutive shifts from the lines of Tomas Plekanec, Ryder and Brian Gionta, followed by Lars Eller, Alex Galchenyuk and Colby Armstrong, delivered quality opportunities for the Canadiens but they couldn't score.
Montreal also had chances late in the period on a delayed-penalty call against the Sabres but were denied by Miller.
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.