Surging Sabres sink Canadiens in OT
Montreal battles back, but falls short in extra frame
Sabres newcomer Marcus Johansson has quickly gained an appreciation of how captain Jack Eichel can take over a game.
"He can be so dominant. He can take over the game," Johansson said of Eichel. "What he can do with the puck with the size he's got, it's impressive to watch. It's fun to watch up close."
The two-goal, two-assist outing was the least Eichel said he could do in sweeping away the frustrations from an off-night in a 4-3 overtime loss at Columbus on Monday.
"The other night was frustrating for a lot of us, especially myself," Eichel said. "So it was important for our group to come back and play well at home."
WATCH | Sabres hot start continues with OT win over Habs:
Eichel particularly wowed the crowd by putting Buffalo ahead 3-2 late in the second period.
Circling with the puck inside his zone, Eichel eluded Tomas Tatar's check at his own blue line and then built up a head of steam driving through the neutral zone. With Ben Chiarot and Jeff Petry backing up, Eichel fired a low hard shot that sneaked in under goalie Keith Kincaid.
The Sabres endured their lapses by squandering a 4-2, third-period lead. And yet, they persevered by improving to 3-0-1, their best start since opening the 2009-10 season at 4-0-1.
Rookie Victor Olofsson matched an NHL record in becoming the fourth NHL player to score his first six career goals. Jeff Skinner also scored and defenceman Rasmus Dahlin had two assists, while Carter Hutton stopped 23 shots and improved to 3-0.
Joel Armia scored twice and added an assist, while Jesperi Kotkaniemi and Chiarot, with the tying goal with 7:06 remaining, also scored for the Canadiens (1-0-2).
Kincaid stopped 34 shots, including getting his right pad out to stop Skinner redirecting Johansson's pass into the crease with 2:51 remaining.
Not the right time for a nap
"We fell asleep in the second period. They were harder on the puck than we were, and we were a bit soft," Canadiens coach Claude Julien said. "If you want to be a good team, those things can't be a part of your game."
The game was decided just as Montreal's Paul Byron exited the penalty box while serving a slashing penalty.
Eichel's shot from the slot was blocked by Chiarot and the puck dribbled to Sabres defenceman Colin Miller in the left circle. Miller immediately slid a pass to Johansson, who swept it into the open side from the right circle.
"The plan we had didn't quite work out, I mean, we didn't execute it right," Johansson said of a 4-on-3 man-advantage that failed to register a shot on net before he scored. "But we stuck with it and I think we got a little bit of a lucky bounce. That's what happens when you shoot the puck."