Last year the Canadiens were 9 wins and a shootout loss to start the season, and the year before it was 9 straight wins out of the gate.
But overall, they weren’t very good, you know that. They were gone after 6 playoff games last year, and were so bad without Carey Price two years ago, me and the gang playing road hockey on Elmer Ave. in Orillia (photo above), might have given them a run for their money.
This year, in Montreal’s season opener in Buffalo, it was a 3-2 shootout win for the good guys, in a game that was surprisingly entertaining for the first of the year. Sometimes a first game can be almost preseason-like, but not this one, and good for Sabres fan who paid the big bucks and kinda got their money’s worth.
Two points in the bank, to be withdrawn sometime down the road when they’re on shaky footing. Maybe they’ll start with 9 straight again this year, whatever it means.
The first period gave us a good look at new Habs rearguard Victor Mete, who won’t turn 20 until June. The young fellow, straight out of junior with the London Knights, is a terrific skater and plays with poise. Hopefully he’ll still be playing with poise when the going gets tough.
The Sabres opened the scoring on a power play, and although the Habs started well, it was the Sabres who came on strong as the period wore on. But with just over two minutes left, a bang bang play – Gally to Jonathan Drouin to Max – and the game was tied.
That was the first period, and now, during intermission, I’d like to show you the vintage pedal car I bought in Revelstoke a few months ago. It was made in the late-50s I think, but resembles a Quadricycle from the late-1890s. Henry Ford used to bomb around in a Quadricycle before he started his company in 1903.
But enough about that.
The second period saw Buffalo’s Jason Pominville notch his second of the evening just 22 seconds in to give his team a 2-1 lead, and the hosts had the edge in play to this point. But the Sabres enjoyed back- to-back power plays and couldn’t get it done, which, if they care enough, could cause a restless sleep tonight. But maybe they’ll sleep soundly. They still get paid, and they got a point.
The second period ended, and during this intermission I’d like to mention that Lucy and I spend three great weeks in St. Petersburg, Russia this summer. We just got back about a month ago.
In the third, Philip Danault shoved home a wraparound at the 8.01 mark, the game was tied, and would remain so into overtime, where no goals were scored even though it was fire-wagon, back and forth hockey.
Really exciting. Really unusual for game one, as I said.
Before the shootout, I’d like to mention that my old pal from Orillia, Kerry Baker, a guy I lost track of more than 40 years ago, came to visit with his lovely Jacquie. We had connected on Facebook about a year ago and finally met up a few weeks ago. He’s a great guy with a great woman, and we had a mighty fine couple of days eating and drinking and drinking and eating.
Jonathan Drouin, showing lovely hands, was the lone scorer in the shootout after parking a backhand into the top of the net past Sabres netminder Robin Lehner. Drouin’s a great player, a difference maker, and he’ll look just dandy holding the Cup high next June.
I also visited my daughter and grandkids in Nelson this summer, and here we are wondering how the team will do this year.
So far, so good.
In the shootout, Paul Byron rang one off the post before Drouin made his magic.
Sabres outshot the Canadiens 45-40 during this lively affair.
Buffalo was 1-5 of the pp, while the Habs went 0-4.
Next up – Saturday in Washington at 7:00 pm ET.
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