MONTREAL – For the first time since October, the Sabres know what it feels like to lose in the home of their closest rivals.
Montreal ended a long point streak by Buffalo on Thursday night, scoring late to send the Sabres to a 3-2 defeat. Buffalo entered Bell Centre with points in 10 straight road games within the division, going 7-0-3 to set a franchise record.
The Sabres, who hadn't lost since Oct. 17 in Tampa Bay, skated with an extra attacker for the final two minutes but couldn't connect.
Former Sabres forward Torrey Mitchell delivered the victory with 6:39 left, snapping a 2-2 tie. He ripped home a rebound from the right side of the net, then shimmied all the way to the left boards to celebrate his eighth goal of the season.
Robin Lehner, who made 31 saves, remained fixed on one knee while staring up at the replay. Montreal goaltender Mike Condon made 36 stops.
Subban hurt: A hush fell over the arena with 2:26 left as Montreal defenseman P.K. Subban needed to be loaded onto a stretcher. After getting tangled with Foligno, a hunched-over Subban got hit on the top of the head by Emelin. Subban thrashed on the ice before being held still by the Habs' medical staff. The crowd chanted, "Let's go, P.K." while the personnel strapped Subban to a board.
Hometown boy makes good: Sabres forward Nicolas Deslauriers, who grew up 15 minutes from the Habs’ arena, gave Buffalo a 1-0 lead with nine minutes gone in the second. Jake McCabe floated a shot from above the left circle, and Deslauriers reached out redirect it past goaltender Mike Condon. It was just the second point (both goals) for Deslauriers in the last 13 games.
Quick tie: It took just nine seconds for the Canadiens to make it 1-1. A good forecheck by Max Pacioretty allowed him to get the puck behind the Sabres’ net, and he fed Galchenyuk in front with 10:51 to go in the second.
Penalty-kill troubles: The Sabres allowed a power-play goal for the fifth straight game as Galchenyuk potted another one with 43.1 seconds left in the middle period. The Sabres got caught watching the puck along the boards and left Galchenyuk alone in front. He had no trouble scoring for the 11th time in eight games and 25th time this season.
Successful return: Former Montreal captain Brian Gionta tied the game, 2-2, with 14:50 to play. He passed the puck to Evander Kane along the boards, then skated to the front. Gionta redirected Kane’s low shot, and the puck caromed between Condon’s legs. Gionta has four points in the last five games.
Eichel denied: Just before Gionta scored, Jack Eichel had a great chance for his 21st goal. Rasmus Ristolainen set up Eichel with a power-play breakaway, but Condon got his blocker on Eichel’s backhand.
Lehner stands up: The Sabres’ shaky penalty kill needed a stop when Carlo Colaiacovo went to the box with 11:48 left. Lehner made sure they got it. The goaltender stoned Lars Eller and Michael McCarron to keep it tied, 2-2.
Big hit: Montreal defenseman Alexei Emelin stunned Sabres rookie Sam Reinhart with a big hit from behind in the corner of the Canadiens’ zone. Kane took offense to seeing Reinhart’s head bounce off the boards and delivered several whacks to Emelin with his stick during play and after the whistle. It resulted in a multiplayer scrum, but only Kane went to the box with 45.7 seconds left in the first period.
Dropping the gloves: Deslauriers and Montreal’s Mike Brown talked about fighting early in their shift but decided against it. They eventually dropped the gloves with 8:24 left in the second. Brown landed a couple of punches early in the draw.
The Sabres’ Marcus Foligno fought Montreal defenseman Greg Pateryn just 23 seconds into the third period. Pateryn pushed Sabres captain Brian Gionta into the net after a whistle, and Foligno took exception.
Scoreless first: Condon made 12 saves and Lehner had 10 during a scoreless opening period. Lehner got help from the post with 6:43 left when Andrei Markov’s slap shot sailed through traffic and struck the iron. Kane had Buffalo’s best chance when he fired a bouncing puck in the slot with 8:07 left.
Subban honored: Elise Beliveau, wife of late Montreal legend Jean Beliveau, presented Subban with the Jean Beliveau Trophy in a pregame ceremony. The annual award goes to the player most active in charitable causes and community involvement. Subban has pledged $10 million over a seven-year period to the Montreal Children’s Hospital Foundation.
No changes: The Sabres went with the same four lines and three defense pairs. “We’ve had real good defined roles for players and lines and had a better feel for that with the way our lineup is comprised right now,” coach Dan Bylsma said.
TV change: Sabres pregame host Brian Duff fell ill following the morning skate, leaving his broadcast duties to play-by-play man Dan Dunleavy.
Next: The Sabres kick off a three-game homestand Saturday when they host the Carolina Hurricanes at 1 p.m. in First Niagara Center. A rare three-day break between games follows. Play resumes Wednesday when the Canadians visit. The Sabres host Ottawa next Friday and play the following night in Toronto.