BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The Buffalo Sabres were down, but never out.
Thomas Vanek had two goals in the third period -- including the game-tying goal with 1.9 seconds left in regulation -- and Jason Pominville scored the deciding goal in the third round of the shootout to cap a wild, 5-4 comeback victory over the Montreal Canadiens at the First Niagara Center Thursday night.
Marcus Foligno set up the late drama after putting the puck inside the Montreal crease with seconds remaining in regulation. With a mad scramble in front of the net, Vanek poked home his second of the evening to tie the game at 4-4.
Steve Ott and Tyler Ennis also scored for the Sabres, who improved to 4-6-1. Ryan Miller had 28 saves.
Tomas Plekanec scored twice for the Canadiens, who lost their second game in a row. Brendan Gallagher and P.K. Subban also scored for Montreal (6-4). Peter Budaj had 36 saves.
After the Sabres came back from one-goal deficits on two separate occasions, Plekanec gave Montreal a two-goal edge with his breakaway goal 45 seconds into the third period. Thomas Vanek scored with 12:03 left in the third period to cut Montreal's lead to 4-3 before tying the game late.
Plekanec opened the scoring 4:11 into the game when his wrist shot from inside the right circle beat Miller high to the stick side. The Sabres responded just 15 seconds later when Ott's shot found its way through Budaj's legs.
The Canadiens opened the scoring again in the second period, and once again the Sabres mustered a quick response. Gallagher buried a wrist shot past Miller 12:31 into the second to give Montreal a 2-1 lead, but Ennis answered for the Sabres 35 seconds later. Ennis raced down the left side of the ice and had a clear path toward Budaj, putting home a quick shot to the short side.
Subban gave Montreal a 3-2 lead with 1:28 left in the second period on a 5-on-3 power play. Subban received a high stick from Buffalo's Steve Ott to give the Canadiens the two-man advantage, and he made no mistake with his bullet from just behind the left circle.
NOTES: Sabres defenseman Christian Ehrhoff (muscle strain) returned to the lineup after missing Tuesday's game against Ottawa. Fellow Buffalo defenseman Andrej Sekera missed his third straight game with a bruised foot. ... This was the second of five meetings between the two teams this year. Montreal won the first meeting, 6-1, on Feb. 2. ... This was the 255th game all-time between Montreal and Buffalo; heading into Thursday's game, the Sabres led the series 116-101-37. ... Budaj received his second start of the season for the Canadiens.