The Buffalo Sabres’ 5-4 shootout win against the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday night wasn’t pretty, but thanks to the continued hot streak of Thomas Vanek they got the win and the ever-important two points.
Vanek not only scored twice in regulation, but converted his shootout attempt as well. His goals were his ninth and tenth on the season, good enough to maintain the league lead in goals and points. Ryan Miller allowed four goals in yet another shaky performance, and got lucky that his offense did enough to bail him out. Steve Ott and Tyler Ennis also scored for the Sabres, who trailed for all but two seconds of the game. Vanek’s goal was enough to force overtime and he and Jason Pominville, along with some big saves from Miller, did enough to take the shootout win. In a condensed season where every point matters, this may make a big difference down the road.
The game certainly wasn’t a vote of confidence for Miller, and the Canadiens started backup Peter Budaj and not Carey Price. The win did show that this Sabres team can stay in close games, and fight back after falling behind. With the top-line talent this team has, they should have a much better record than 4-6-1. Vanek, Pominville, Cody Hodgson and Ennis all see more than 19 minutes per game for Buffalo and all have scored at least four goals this season. With that kind of offensive dominance, they need more help from Miller if they’re going to keep winning close games.