Home isn't so sweet for Canadiens in 6-1 loss to Sabres

Buffalo goalie Devon Levi, who grew up in Dollard-des-Ormeaux, gets victory in his first game at Bell Centre in front of family and friends.

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It’s too bad the Canadiens can’t stay on the road.

Playing their first game at the Bell Centre since Dec. 16, the Canadiens got pounded 6-1 by the Buffalo Sabres Thursday night.

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Tage Thompson scored twice for the Sabres, while Casey Mittelstadt, Jeff Skinner, Jack Quinn and Rasmus Dahlin (empty-netter) added singles.

Joel Armia scored the only goal for the Canadiens short-handed.

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The Canadiens now have a 16-17-5 record. They are 7-10-2 at the Bell Centre and 9-7-3 on the road, where they played their previous seven games over the holidays and went 3-3-1.

The Sabres improved to 16-19-4 and are only one point behind the Canadiens for sixth place in the Atlantic Division. The only team behind them is the Ottawa Senators at 14-19-0.

“Home record should be good,” Canadiens captain Nick Suzuki said after the game. “We definitely play well on the road, but we got to find better ways to win at home. Teams are psyched up to play here with the building and the crowd. We definitely have to be better at home.”


The Canadiens also have to be better at penalty-killing.

After a scoreless first period, Armia appeared to open the scoring at 2:06 of the second period. But after a coach’s challenge video review, the goal didn’t count because of goaltender interference by Michael Pezzetta.

We apologize, but this video has failed to load.

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The Sabres then took a 2-0 lead when Middlestadt and Skinner scored power-play goals at 5:33 and 6:59 of the second period. The Sabres, who came into the game ranked 29th in the NHL on the power play, went 2-for-4 against the Canadiens, who now rank 31st in penalty-killing at 72.1 per cent. The Senators are the only team that is worse at 71.4 per cent.

“Sometimes it’s just individual mistakes that kind of cost us,” Canadiens defenceman David Savard said about the PK. “I don’t think it’s our system or anything. I think we just got to figure out a way to kill those. Everybody’s got to do their job and we’ll be fine if we do that.”

Armia did score his fifth goal of the season and his second short-handed at 13:19 of the second period to make the score 2-1. It was a great individual effort as Armia stole the puck from defenceman Rasmus Dahlin and then scored on a wicked wrist shot high to the glove side. It was his first point in eight games.

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The Sabres blew the Canadiens away with four unanswered goals in the third period. With the score 4-1, Canadiens head coach Martin St. Louis pulled goalie Jake Allen for an extra attacker and Dahlin quickly scored into the empty net with 5:29 left on the clock before Thompson provided the final dagger with 1:28 remaining on a nice setup from Skinner.

Skinner finished the game with a goal and three assists and since joining the Sabres for the 2018-19 season he has 15-14-29 totals in 16 games against the Canadiens. Thompson had an assist to go along with his two goals, giving him 7-6-13 totals in 11 games against Montreal.

St. Louis summed up the game very well in his post-game news conference when he said: “We had a pretty good first (period). That’s about it.”

It was a night Sabres goalie Devon Levi will never forget. The 22-year-old who grew up in Dollard-des-Ormeaux on Montreal’s West Island and played midget hockey for the Lac St. Louis Lions before going to Northeastern University, was playing his first game at the Bell Centre in front of family and friends and made 32 saves for the win.

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It was a night the Canadiens’ Allen would like to forget, allowing five goals on 37 shots without getting much help from his teammates. Allen has only one win in his last 10 starts (1-8-1), during which the Canadiens have scored 18 goals combined. Allen’s season record is now 4-8-2 with a 3.52 goals-against average and a .900 save percentage as the Canadiens continue go to with a crowded three-goalie system, along with Samuel Montembeault and Cayden Primeau.

It was another tough night for Canadiens forward Brendan Gallagher, who had two shots in 15:32 of ice time and finished with a minus-2 differential. Gallagher has now gone 24 games without a goal and has only four assists during that span with no points in the last seven games. He is also a team-worst minus-19. Josh Anderson is second-worst at minus-11.

Suzuki said the Canadiens were excited to be back home, but it didn’t show on the ice.

“The guys had high energy before the game,” the captain said. “We kept it close, but they pulled away in the third.

“You’re going to have these games every once in a while during the season,” Suzuki added. “It’s tough to have that happen tonight, but we got to bounce back. We got a big game next game against a really good team, so we got to put that in the past.”

The Canadiens will be back in action Saturday against the New York Rangers (7 p.m., SNE, Citytv, TVA Sports, TSN 690 Radio, 98.5 FM).

Unfortunately, it’s at the Bell Centre.

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