Buffalo 2, Montreal 1 (ot)

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BUFFALO, NEW YORK (TICKER) —For a team battling for a playoff berth, the Montreal Canadiens did not look desperate. And when they did, rookie Ryan Miller was there to shut the door.

Miller made 25 saves and Miroslav Satan scored 3:49 into overtime to lift the Buffalo Sabres to a 2-1 victory over the struggling Canadiens.

Entering the game one point out of the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, Montreal grabbed the lead on a first-period tally by Jan Bulis.

But Miller, who had allowed 15 goals in four consecutive losses, stopped 15 shots in the final two periods and two in overtime before Satan gave the Sabres their third win in four meetings with the Canadiens this season.

“I think the stretch was pretty tough, but I had to battle through it,” Miller said. “Things start going your way when you work hard. Jim Corsi, our goaltending coach, has been here. We’ve been putting in time. I really wanted to get back to contributing to this team. It feels really good to do it.”

After racing down the left side to retrieve a loose puck, Satan blasted a slap shot from the left faceoff circle that found its way between goaltender Mathieu Garon’s pads with 71 seconds remaining.

“I don’t remember how the puck ended up in the neutral zone. I just saw there was open space,” Satan said. “I just saw it and tried to get it as fast as I could and take a shot. I was lucky to get it through the five-hole. I don’t have to look at the net. I know exactly where it is. I shot it low in the middle, hoping that I might squeeze it by the five-hole, and that’s what happened.”

“Sad. I let that goal in at the end, but I think we played a pretty good game,” Garon said. “It’s a good thing, at least we got a point.”

It was the 20th goal of the season for Satan, marking the seventh straight campaign he has reached the plateau.

Vaclav Varada also scored for Buffalo, which won for just the second time in its last 11 contests.

“It leaves a good taste in everyone’s mouth driving out of the building tonight,” said Sabres coach Lindy Ruff, who is four wins away from tying Scotty Bowman’s franchise record of 210. “We have talked about just playing for pride and playing for our fans, trying to make sure that when our fans leave the building, they have been entertained.”

“As we approach it right now, it’s just to have fun and win some games for the fans and for each other,” Satan said. “I think that is what we did today. It’s a little bright moment in the season.”

Garon turned aside 28 shots after allowing just one goal in his previous two games following his recall from the minor leagues.

“I’m feeling pretty good right now,” he said. “I just wanted to show I can play in this league.”

The Canadiens fell to 2-9-2-3 in their last 16 road games. They are three points behind the New York Islanders for eighth place in the East.

“It’s a disappointment we lost in overtime,” Montreal coach Claude Julien said. “But we had to go for it in overtime, we needed the two points. One point wasn’t good enough, so we took our chances. If we play conservative, it isn’t going to help us get a spot in the playoffs.”

“It’s important, we need every point,” Garon said. “Tonight, to get two points would have been good for us. But unfortunately, we only got one.”

With the Sabres attempting to clear the zone late in the first, Saku Koivu held the puck in near the right point and flipped a backhander toward the net. Alone in front, Bulis corralled the puck and beat a helpless Miller high to the stick side at 16:37 to give Montreal a 1-0 lead.

Making his first appearance since January 7 after missing 17 games with a sprained knee, Varada drew Buffalo even late in the second period.

Taylor Pyatt drove down the right side and around defenseman Craig Rivet before being stopped by Garon. Defenseman Dmitri Kalinin also was denied by the 24-year-old goalie on a rebound attempt before Varada swept in and buried a shot at 16:26 to knot the contest.

“All the effort was Taylor, he made a great play,” Varada said. “He was driving down the goal. He was hard to move. I just saw the rebound pop out and I was all over it.”

Both teams had quality chances in the third but could not capitalize. Rookie Ales Kotalik was hooked from behind by defenseman Stephane Quintal before getting off a shot on a breakaway with less than three minutes to go, while Miller blocked Bulis’ shot from low in the left circle with 1 1/2 minutes remaining.

“We had plenty of chances all game,” said Canadiens defenseman Mike Komisarek, who made his NHL debut after being drafted seventh overall in 2001. “(Miller) made a lot of key saves at crucial times in the game. I thought both goalies played really well.”

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