Mar 12, 2012; Buffalo, NY, USA; Montreal Canadiens goalie Peter Budaj (30) stops a shot by Buffalo Sabres defenseman Tyler Myers (57) during the second period at the First Niagara Center. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-US PRESSWIRE
Both the Sabres and Canadiens had chances to carry the game after David Desharnais sent it to overtime with less than five seconds left, but it would be Tyler Myers who delivered the victory to help keep Buffalo's playoff hunt alive.
For much of the matchup between the Sabres and Canadiens, it was a case of the teams making their own luck. With Peter Budaj and Ryan Miller playing well for their respective sides, neither team was going to find an easy goal.
For the Habs, it was a chance to play a little spoiler, while the Sabres desperately needed two points to keep them surging back into the playoff chase after rattling off seven wins in their last 10 games.
For much of the first period the Buffalo offense had Montreal on their heels, looking for an opportunity to pounce on Budaj, but a responsive defense was able to keep Tyler Ennis, Derek Roy, and Thomas Vanek off the scoresheet despite excellent scoring chances.
Bottled up for much of the period, the Canadiens finally broke through when Ville Leino misplayed the puck in his defensive zone, sending it straight to David Desharnais. The winger would dangle, dip, and eventually drop a pass back to Erik Cole, who beat Miller high glove to put the Canadiens in the lead.
With both sides temporarily losing a player -- defenseman Tyler Myers and forward Max Pacioretty -- due to injury, though each would return later in the game, the Sabres ended up pushing the play back into the Canadiens' zone for long stretches, finally pulling even thanks to an incredible individual effort by Ennis, who worked his way through the entire Montreal defense before beating Budaj through the legs in an instant goal of the year candidate.
The game would remain tied into the start of the third period, but Ennis made a little more of his own luck, buzzing through the Montreal zone before firing a shot at the net with the intention of setting up Marcus Foglino for a tap-in at the side of the crease, but the puck hit Montreal d-man Alexei Emelin's stick and deflected into the net for a 2-1 Buffalo lead.
Ennis and the rest of the Buffalo offense swarmed Budaj, but the netminder made saves to keep his team in the game, including an impressive sequence of stops against Vanek and Pomminville in quick succession before the Montreal defense could bring the puck out from behind the net and out of the zone.
With time running down, it appeared that Buffalo would take the win in regulation, but Montreal pushed hard, keeping possession in the Buffalo zone for the final two minutes of play and bringing Budaj to the bench for an extra attacker. After four attempts in rapid succession that sent Ryan Miller sliding out of position on a sprawling stop, Erik Cole threw the puck to a wide open Desharnais, who tied the game with less than five seconds left.
The goal gave the Sabres a vital point in their continued playoff pursuit, but the team desperately needed two, and their wish would be fulfilled when Jason Pominville pushed the play up ice after a Miller save midway through the overtime, rushing up ice with Derek Roy. Waiting for his opportunity, Roy threw the puck back to Tyler Myers, and the statuesque defenseman loaded up and unleashed a powerful shot to the top corner to end the game with just over two minutes left in extra time.
The win pushes the Sabres within two points of 8th place Washington, and gives Ryan Miller the most wins of any NHL goaltender since the all-star break.