The Buffalo Sabres' first bout with adversity this season did not seem to faze coach Ralph Krueger. Following a team meeting Wednesday morning, Krueger told the media inside KeyBank Center that difficult losses such as the one the in Columbus were simply part of the process.
Krueger will have another lesson to teach after what occurred hours later. Marcus Johansson scored the game-winning goal 1:30 into overtime to give the Sabres a 5-4 win over the Montreal Canadiens. Jack Eichel scored two goals among four points and Victor Olofsson added a goal on the power play.
The Sabres (3-0-1) have won each of their first two home games for the first time since 2008-09, and they have earned at least one point in their first four games of the season for the first time since 2009-10. The Canadiens fell to 1-0-2 this season.
Power-play history: The Sabres scored the game's opening goal at 5:04 when Eichel sent a cross-ice pass to Olofsson, who scored his fourth of the season for a 1-0 lead. Olfosson joined Winnipeg's Craig Norwich (1979-80), Hartford's Sylvain Turgeon (1983-84) and the New York Islanders' Jeff Norton (1987-90) as the only players in NHL history to have each of their first six career goals occur on the power play.
Shorthanded: Montreal tied the score, 1-1, with a shorthanded goal at 14:06 into the first period, when Nate Thompson found former Sabres draft pick Joel Armia with a backdoor pass behind Buffalo's defensive-zone coverage. The Canadiens' possession began when Rasmus Dahlin committed a neutral-zone turnover.
Another mistake: The Canadiens took a 2-1 lead at 19:39 into the first period when Armia scored from the slot on the power play following a turnover by Sabres defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen.
Captain Jack: Eichel's impressive start to the season continued Wednesday night. The 22-year-old captain tied the score, 2-2, at 4:46 into the second period, when his wrist shot from the left circle went off the post and into the net to beat Canadiens goalie Keith Kinkaid, who was screened by Ben Chariot, on the power play.
Eichel proceeded to show why he's the cornerstone of the Sabres' franchise. He carried the puck up the ice, stickhandled around Canadiens winger Tomas Tatar to face a 1-on-3 after Dahlin's turnover gave the Canadiens possession prior to the shorthanded goal. Some bad D-zone coverage by the Sabres, too. Despite facing two defenseman and winger Phillip Danault's approach to the left, Eichel created enough space to fire a wrist shot through Kinkaid's legs for a 3-2 lead with 5:47 left in the second period.
Eichel had seven shots through two periods, not including his two attempts that hit the post during an unsuccessful power play.
Insurance: Jeff Skinner pushed the Sabres' lead to 4-2 at 47 seconds into the third period, when he received a pass in the slot from Johansson and scored his third goal of the season with a backhanded shot. However, the Canadiens answered only 57 seconds later with Jesperi Kotkaniemi's goal.
Tying goal: The Canadiens tied the score, 4-4, with 7:06 remaining in the third period when Chariot's shot from the left circle beat Carter Hutton, who was screened on the play.
Rising tides: The Sabres have a plus-7 goal differential in the second period of their first four games this season. Comparatively, they had a minus-141 differential during the second period last season. Additionally, Buffalo has scored at least one power-play goal in each of the past four games.
It accomplished that feat only once last season, when former coach Phil Housley's group scored five during a four-game span from Feb. 23 through March 1. Fourteen players have recorded at least one point for the Sabres this season.
Eichel has three goals among seven points, while Dahlin has one goal among seven points. Dahlin, 19, has recorded at least one point in four consecutive games. Only two teenage defensemen opened the season with longer point streaks: Los Angeles' Drew Doughty (2009-10) and Larry Murphy (1980-81).
Lineup: Defenseman John Gilmour was a healthy scratch for a fourth consecutive game, and the Sabres did not have a healthy extra forward. The Canadiens chose to rest goalie Carey Price, who is expected to start for their home opener Thursday night against Detroit.
Next: The Sabres are scheduled to practice Thursday in preparation for their game Friday night against the Florida Panthers (1-2) in KeyBank Center.