The Buffalo Sabres were none too proud about the point they registered Thursday night.
Coach Lindy Ruff used adjectives like "poor" and "dismal" to describe the effort. The mood in the dressing room afterward was glum.
Jason Pominville deflected an Ales Kotalik one-timer with 27 seconds left in regulation to send the game into sudden death before the Sabres justifiably succumbed to the Montreal Canadiens, 3-2, in front of a bipartisan crowd of 17,344.
Alexei Kovalev scored Montreal's first and last goals to terminate Buffalo's win streak at six games and hand them their first overtime loss against five victories. His winner came 39 ticks into the extra frame.
"We stole a point," Sabres center Paul Gaustad said. "We didn't play our best game. It was lucky to get that one point."
That's the only luck Buffalo experienced. Versatile forward Jochen Hecht, who scored in the first period, went down with a sprained knee ligament in the third period and will be out two weeks.
"That's a tough loss again," Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said. "That means he won't play in the Olympics."
On a night when Buffalo could have been blown out, it managed overtime on Pominville's 13th goal. Co-captain Chris Drury won the faceoff in Montreal's zone to Maxim Afinogenov, who passed to Kotalik at the point for a slap shot. Pominville tipped it past Cristobal Huet.
Kovalev won the game with his 14th goal. Five of them have been scored in four games against the Sabres. He fired inside the far post from the right circle.
Sabres goalie Ryan Miller made 26 saves in his first loss since Jan. 19. Huet stopped 28 shots, but faced only five in the second period.
"On the road, just like anybody else, we try to be patient and see what they can bring," Kovalev said. "We expected them to be more aggressive at home, but it looked like every time we tried to push it there was no reaction from them. So we just continued to keep pushing."
The winner wasn't the most aggravating goal the Sabres gave up.
Radek Bonk added to an abysmal second period for the Sabres with his second goal in 57 games, dating back to Feb. 5, 2004 -- short-handed, no less.
Bonk scored his rare goal with 2:26 remaining in the second period. The short-handed rush began when Steve Begin, claimed from the Sabres in the 2003 waiver draft, stripped Pominville just as he had exchanged a broken stick.
"By the time I got the new stick, [Brian Campbell] didn't know and had passed," Pominville said. "I just mishandled the puck, and they were gone."
Miller stacked his pads, and Begin shot right into his stomach. But Bonk followed up by pumping the puck over the sprawled goalie.
"I'm not upset with Jason on that play," Ruff said. "I'm more upset about the people that didn't come back. Ryan made the save. He shouldn't have to make another save. They shouldn't get another opportunity."
The Sabres have given up a dozen short-handed goals, tying them with the Washington Capitals for the most allowed in the league. Montreal's penalty killers also struck in Tuesday's game in the Bell Centre, a 3-2 shootout victory for Buffalo.
Hecht's power-play goal with 8:01 left in the first period gave Buffalo the lead. Thomas Vanek triggered the play with a pass from below the goal line to defenseman Campbell, who shot from the top of the right circle. Huet made the save but couldn't control the rebound. Hecht calmly shot into the yawning net for his 15th goal.
Kovalev answered 5:02 into the second period. His wrister from the inner edge of the left circle sailed over Miller's blocker.
The Sabres had a glorious chance to tie the score 8:31 into the third period off a partial two-on-one break. Not only didn't they score, but Hecht also got hurt on the play.
Vanek passed through the crease to set up Hecht with a gaping net. Hecht whiffed, then got clobbered by Jan Bulis a beat later.