At morning skate, the team was accompanied by a face that they haven’t had around for awhile. Rene Bourque moved from the second sheet of ice to practicing with the team for the first time since his injury. He was wearing a no-contact jersey, but this is definitely a positive going forward. Prust and Weber skated on the second ice surface, however, Diaz is still not skating. Therrien made a change in his line up as he promoted Armstrong to the third line as the Habs wanted to see Dumont more at the centre position, therefore he moved down to the fourth line. This move struck a nerve in multiple Canadiens fans.
Mike Blunden was sent back to the Hamilton Bulldogs Tuesday morning. He is having a pretty good season down there considering how the overall team is doing in the standings. Olivier Fortier was reassigned from the Bulldogs to Orlando of the ECHL, he was a healthy scratch a number of times. In my opinion, he was not used in the way that he should have been. Playing on the fourth line does not suit Fortier’s style of play and does not give him the best situation to be successful as he had goons on his flanks. Per Dan Kramer, Brady Vail will wear #54 while he is with Hamilton for the rest of the season. Lastly, Gwinnett’s (ECHL) Alex Belzile has been loaned to Hamilton, he has 30 points in 40 games with the Gladiators.
It would be Jhonas Enroth against Carey Price for the goaltending battle in the game against the Sabres. There were a number of scouts (9) in the house for this match, but most notably the amount of people in attendance from the St. Louis Blues stuck out. Additionally, Scotty Bowman and Pierre Gauthier (yes, him) were at the Bell Centre for the Blackhawks.
The game did not start off well at all. The Canadiens were quite sloppy in their defensive zone and it cost them twice before the first period was over. Any time the Habs can not get the puck out of their end for what seems like an endless amount of time, good things do not happen. Desharnais’ line was caught two times for this and Price had no chance at stopping either of them. Desharnais, Gallagher and Pacioretty all skated off the ice after 20 minutes with -2 marked down in the plus/minus column. In the second period, the Canadiens began to wake up. They did not succeed in capitalizing in the middle frame but it was a lot better than the first period. As time was dwindling down in the third period, it did not seem like the Habs were going to be able to solve Enroth. However, Gallagher would put in hard work down low and locate Pacioretty out front to cut into Buffalo’s 2-0 lead. With only a couple minutes left on the clock, Eller would pass it to Galchenyuk who found Armstrong alone in front to bury his second goal in two games to tie it up. This one went to overtime but the Canadiens would not come out on top. Subban was called for a highsticking penalty, however, if you watch the replay, his stick was not even close to Pysyk’s head. The Sabres scored on the man-advantage to win the game 3-2 and put an end to the Habs winning streak. Regardless, the Habs have only one regulation loss in the last 18 games.
According to Renaud Lavoie, the Habs are in discussions with agent Don Meehan about extending Francis Bouillon to a one-year deal. Bouillon has exceeded many expectations this season, especially if you consider his age. I can’t see him having a permanent spot in the starting 6 defencemen next season though.
With Boston’s loss to the Jets in regulation, the Canadiens hold on to first in the division. They are back in action on Thursday against the Islanders who have had their number this season.