MONTREAL - A couple of unlikely sources helped the red-hot Montreal Canadiens keep rolling Saturday night at the Bell Centre.
Left wing Brandon Prust scored a goal and an assist, and right wing Travis Moen notched a pair of assists, to lead the Canadiens to a 3-2 win over the Buffalo Sabres.
"That was good to get going a little bit," said Prust, named the game's first star. "We talked before the game, we just wanted to keep it simple and we did that. We got pucks deep and grinded them out. Our line isn't very pretty but we got the job done."
Center Tomas Plekanec had a goal and an assist and left wing Alex Galchenyuk also scored for Montreal (19-9-3).
Goaltender Carey Price stopped 23 shots for the Canadiens, who won their fifth straight and for the ninth time in their last 10 games.
Centers Tyler Ennis and Zemgus Girgensons scored for the Sabres (6-22-2), who have just two wins under interim head coach Ted Nolan.
"All in all, I thought our game was there," Sabres captain Steve Ott said. "We see this progress that we've been talking about. It's not transitioning into wins at this point right now but you have to keep grabbing the positives out of each and every game.
"They're one of the top teams in the last 10 games and we were hanging in there with them."
After an uneventful first period that saw the two teams combine for just nine shots on goal, Prust awoke the home crowd just 19 seconds into the middle frame with his third goal of the season.
Sabres right wing Matt D'Agostini turned the puck over in his end and the Canadiens took advantage as center Ryan White fed Prust in the slot.
The Sabres started to press a few minutes later and were finally able to convert at 8:35. A failure to clear the zone cost Montreal when defenseman Christian Ehrhoff found Ennis streaking in off the bench for his sixth of the season.
"They're having a tough season but they play hard and they compete," Plekanec said. "You have to work hard (against) them. We made a couple of bad decisions in the first period that put us on our heels. Our fourth line gave us a chance to win tonight."
Plekanec put the home side ahead at 17:44 when Prust, behind the net, found him in the slot. The Czech's 11th goal of the year tied him with left wing Max Pacioretty for the team lead.
Galchenyuk added to Montreal's lead 23 seconds later. Defenseman Andrei Markov, at the top of the left circle, dished off a perfect pass to the second-year forward at the hash marks. He made no mistake in sinking his eighth goal of the season.
"We didn't have a great first (period); we had some turnovers," Prust said. "We talked about that coming into the second. Just get back to the game plan of getting pucks deep and we did that in the second and it was a big period for us."
Girgensons brought the Sabres to within a goal at 4:04 of the third period. Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban struggled to settle the puck off an Ennis lob clear to the Montreal blue line and Girgensons took advantage, holding off Subban to put the puck past Price.
"One thing about Zemgus, I've known the kid now for three years and watched him play. He does this all the time," Nolan said. "It's one of those things with maturity and when his body matures, he's going to be better and better. One thing you can't teach somebody is that work ethic he has."
NOTES: The Canadiens and Sabres combined for just nine shots in the opening period, a season-low total between two teams for Montreal. ... Buffalo scratched LW John Scott, D Brayden McNabb and C Mikhail Grigorenko. ... Grigorenko will temporarily leave the Sabres on Sunday to join Team Russia for the upcoming World Junior Championship. ... Montreal scratched RW George Parros and D Francis Bouillon, while RW/LW Rene Bourque remained out with an upper-body injury. ... Heading into Saturday, Buffalo was 11-3-1 in its last 15 games against Montreal and 7-3-0 in the last 10 played at Bell Centre. ... It was the 260th meeting between the Canadiens and Sabres.