MONTREAL (AP)—Toni Lydman knew just what to do when his name was finally called in the shootout.
Lydman scored on Buffalo’s sixth attempt, and Ryan Miller stopped each of Montreal’s tries to lead the Sabres to a 4-3 win over the Canadiens on Saturday night.
The Buffalo defenseman put a shot through Carey Price’s legs on his first career shootout attempt after the goalie turned aside the first five shooters he faced.
“I knew what I was going to do, try to throw it five-hole,” Lydman said. “I had to skate around (Price) to see that the puck actually went in.”
Miller, who never watches the Sabres’ attempts during shootouts, was perfect in the tiebreaker. Maxim Lapierre fanned on the Canadiens’ final attempt after Alex Kovalev, Alex Tanguay, Saku Koivu, Andrei Markov and Tomas Plekanec also failed to score.
“I’ll watch it on video, but Carey had a nice game, he did a good job,” said Miller, who has stopped 31 of 40 shootout attempts this season. “Our goals were hard-fought and around the net. He battled through that shootout. I didn’t see it, but from the reaction of the crowd and the kind of shooters he had shooting on him it looked like he made some good plays.”
Miller started for the second time in two nights, after missing 13 games due to a sprained left ankle, and made 32 saves. He had a sensational lunging stop midway through the first that prevented Lapierre and the Canadiens from opening the scoring.
“He had to be the difference by the time the end of the night came around,” Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said. “To do what he did in the shootout, that’s a big point for us.”
Miller stopped 33 shots in the Sabres’ 5-3 win over Toronto on Friday in his return.
Clarke MacArthur drew Buffalo even at 3 when he scored into an open right side 3:58 into the third.
The Sabres held a 37-35 edge in shots overall, including a 16-7 advantage in the third.
“I don’t think we responded badly, but I don’t think we made the plays to alleviate that pressure,” said Montreal left wing Chris Higgins, who scored the first of his team’s three unanswered goals in the second.
“We need the points more—we can’t get down,” Miller said. “If this were the last game of the season that would have been unfortunate, but there are seven games left.”
Lapierre got a boarding penalty 2:52 in for checking Sabres forward Patrick Kaleta from behind into the boards. Kaleta returned for a few more shifts before leaving the game for good.
Ruff said Kaleta was examined by Canadiens medical staff who, “deemed him to have a concussion.”
“You can tell the impact by the fact his helmet flew off his head,” Ruff said. “I disagree with the lack of respect that he showed our player on the play.”
Kovalev scored two goals and Higgins added one as Montreal came back from a two-goal deficit early in the second to take a 3-2 lead.
Mair scored on a deflection late in the first and Connolly gave the Sabres a 2-0 lead with his career-high 17th goal on a power play 2:36 into the second.
Higgins scored the first of three straight Montreal goals when he drove a shot from the left side over Miller’s right shoulder for his 10th goal at 7:58.
Kovalev got credit for his 21st goal at 12:33 when Koivu came out from behind the net and put a backhand along the ice that went in off the Russian right wing.
Kovalev got his second goal in 2:41 to put the Canadiens up 3-2, converting during a 5-on-3 power play at 15:14.
His linemate Tanguay, who had the third five-point game of his career in Tuesday’s 6-3 win over Atlanta, assisted on the tying and go-ahead goals. Tanguay has a five-game point streak.
Sabres defenseman Henrik Tallinder was cut on the forehead at 10:56 when a slap shot by Canadiens defenseman Patrice Brisebois struck him on the front of his helmet. Tallinder, who wears a visor, went to the dressing room and returned for the second period.
Connolly had 16 goals in 63 games with Buffalo in 2005-06. … Sabres RW Jason Pominville extended his point streak to six games with an assist on MacArthur’s goal. Pominville has two goals and eight assists during his streak. … Tanguay has three goals and seven assists during his run. … Canadiens LW Andrei Kostitsyn missed his second straight game because of the flu.