MONTREAL -- The offensive magic ran dry on the last day of the month for the Buffalo Sabres and the defense struggled as well. It added up to a 5-2 loss to the Montreal Canadiens in Bell Centre Tuesday night.
Canadiens captain Max Pacioretty netted a hat trick while the Sabres couldn't find many quality scoring chances. It wasn't until 3:56 left in the game when Dmitry Kulikov let go a shot that beat Carey Price to avoid the shutout.
The Sabres then got a power play goal from Brian Gionta with 2:12 left in the game but the rally was too little too late.
Odd-man-rush: The Habs finally cracked through the movable wall that was Robin Lehner for much of the first period with 2:33 left in the opening 20. Alexander Radulov skated hard to the net and fed a perfect pass to Max Pacioretty in a two-on-one break for Montreal. Pacioretty beat Lehner, who couldn't make it across the crease in time for the stop.
Lehner in the first: Before the goal, Lehner was impressive making several key stops, including sliding across the crease to deny Radulov and denying Tomas Plekanec on a breakaway. He faced 17 shots in the opening 20 minutes, making 16 saves.
Best early chance: The Sabres had 11 shots in the first with their best scoring opportunity coming midway in the period when Cal O'Reilly's pass sprung Evander Kane for a break on Habs' goaltender Carey Price. Price got a piece of the puck, sending it wide.
Best chances in the second: It was a 1-0 game when Ryan O'Reilly and Jack Eichel both had good scoring chances against Carey Price. O'Reilly was alone in the slot and took a nice feed from Rasmus Ristolainen, but couldn't get the puck to settle enough for a better shot. Price then stopped Eichel on his doorstep on the next shift.
Max strikes again: Pacioretty made it a 2-0 game at 7:47 of the second period. Phillip Danault got the puck behind the net, fed Radulov in the corner who hit Pacioretty, who was alone in the slot.
Breaking it open: The Habs added two more goals in the second for a three-goal period and a commanding 4-0 lead after 40 minutes. David Desharnais scored at 11:12, taking advantage of a giveaway by Cody Franson. Paul Byron took a pass from Andrei Markov, getting through the slot without much effort to score at 18:38.
Hat trick: Pacioretty scored his third of the game and 24th of the season at 3:24 of the third period. He put home a loose puck in front of Lehner as the Sabres were inactive trying to clear the front of the net.
Bad night at the office: Zach Bogosian was a minus-5 for the game. He was on the ice for all five of Montreal's goals.
Moment of silence: Before the game, the Montreal Canadiens observed a moment of silence for support and unity after a shooting in a mosque in Quebec City. The arena was still during the few moments which included statements on the video board and the hashtag #TousUnis, which translates as united.
Scratches: Nicolas Deslauriers was the healthy scratch for the Sabres. Jake McCabe, out with an injured shoulder, was also listed as a scratch. Montreal scratched Jacob DeLaRose, Jeff Petry and Mark Barberio.
Up next: The Sabres play four of their next five games at home, starting with hosting the New York Rangers at 7:30 p.m. Thursday. The Sabres then host Ottawa at 7 p.m. on Saturday. Their lone road game in the stretch is Monday, Feb. 6 in New Jersey. The Sabres return home to host San Jose (Feb. 7) and Anaheim (Feb. 9).