Ryan Miller posted 38 saves to help the Buffalo Sabres take a 2-1 win over the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday.
Thomas Vanek scored both goals in the win for the Sabres, who have ripped off three straight wins for just the second time this season.
Michael Ryder scored the lone goal while Carey Price made 16 saves for the Canadiens, who had won six of seven coming into the contest.
“They’re a tough team to play when they have a two-goal lead, especially when Miller is playing as good as he did tonight,” said Ryder. “We just couldn’t get it going until it was too late.”
The loss saw Montreal fail in its bid to close the gap with the Pittsburgh Penguins for the top spot in the Eastern Conference as the Canadiens remain three points back.
However, Montreal’s next contest will come in Pittsburgh as the two top squads faceoff on Tuesday at CONSOL Energy Center.
Skating on a 5-on-3 power play, Buffalo got on the board midway through the second period as a one-timer from Christian Ehrhoff at the right point went through traffic and was tipped into the left corner by Vanek.
The Sabres gave themselves a 2-0 lead with 39 seconds to play in the middle stanza when Vanek received a pass behind the defense down low and shifted to the backhand before slipping the puck in for his 16th of the year.
“That was a good play by everyone involved,” said Vanek. “I got in behind and was able to slip it past the goalie. They played a good game tonight and it was a fun one to be out there for.”
The Habs finally got on the board at the 8:17 mark of the third while on the man advantage as Andrei Markov’s pass from the left point went to the slot where an uncovered Ryder re-directed it in for his 10th of the year.
That was as close as it got, though, as Miller finished the frame with 15 saves to keep the Habs from tying the contest.