BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP)—Battered and bruised, the Buffalo Sabres are still rolling along.
Playing without two of their top six forwards, the Sabres lost two more in a gutsy 3-1 win over the Montreal Canadiens on Friday night.
“It’s just the nature of our team,” said Connolly, who sealed the game on the power play with his sixth goal, scored with just over three minutes to go. “We always want to work as hard as we can out there, and when we do that, we know that good things will happen.”
Already missing leading scorer Daniel Briere and J.P. Dumont, who has 14 points, the Sabres lost Taylor Pyatt in the first period after the winger fractured his wrist. Forward Mike Grier then collided with Connolly at center ice, and missed most of the third period after tweaking his knee.
Briere missed his second game, while Dumont has not seen action since Nov. 17.
“It’s the type of win you have to muster up with the injuries,” Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff said.
Ales Kotalik also scored for the Sabres, who have earned 11 of a possible 12 points over their last six games, moving within four points of the second-place Canadiens in the Northeast Division.
“We’re taking care of the puck out there, and that’s working for us and helping us win,” said Campbell, who scored his third winner of the season. “We’re skating hard and forechecking, and getting opportunities in the offensive end.”
Biron made several key saves to preserve the win, including four in the final 50 seconds of the second period when Montreal peppered him with 18 shots. He was also helped when Canadiens defenseman Andrei Markov hit the goal post with less than five minutes remaining in the game.
“It’s one of those where you look back and see where the mark was to make sure it wasn’t too close,” Biron said. “Those are bounces you need to win games. Tonight we got that bounce.”
Over a minute later, Connolly’s wrist shot sneaked past Montreal goalie Yann Danis, making his first appearance since allowing four goals on 17 shots in 29 minutes in a loss to Washington last Saturday. He finished with 28 saves.
“Danis was good for the most part, and you certainly don’t point your finger at him for the loss,” Canadiens coach Claude Julien said. “You have to give credit to their goaltender because he was good.”
Richard Zednik scored for Montreal, which lost for the third time in four games.
After a scoreless first period, Kotalik scored his 12th goal at 6:30 of the second to give Buffalo a 1-0 lead. Kotalik streaked toward the Montreal goal and converted Adam Mair’s pass from the left corner, scoring his fourth goal in five games.
Kotalik is tied with Briere for the team lead in goals.
Buffalo grabbed a 2-0 lead over five minutes later on the power play when Campbell scored his fifth goal. Skating in from the left point, Campbell one-timed Chris Drury’s cross-ice pass from the right circle, lifting the puck over Danis.
Zednik spoiled Biron’s shutout bid with his seventh goal 3 1/2 minutes into the third, tapping in Markov’s pass while standing to the left of the Buffalo goalie.
“I think that’s the first time this year that for 60 minutes I was always thinking ahead a step,” said Biron, who has won four straight.
The Sabres have won four of five at home, and six of eight overall. … Following the game, Buffalo recalled forward Jason Pominville from their AHL affiliate in Rochester, and sent G Michael Leighton to Rochester. … Ruff didn’t speculate how long Pyatt will be lost, only saying it will be “a good period of time.” Grier is not expected to miss any time. … Montreal D Sheldon Souray didn’t play for the second straight game because of a groin injury. … Drury’s assist on Campbell’s goal extended his point streak to four games. … Montreal has dropped eight of nine in Buffalo. … The Sabres have scored a power-play goal in 16 of their last 17 games.