Sabres use strong second period to edge Habs

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Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen made 29 saves to help the visiting Buffalo Sabres earn a 3-2 win against the Montreal Canadiens on Wednesday night.

Zemgus Girgensons, Jeff Skinner and Alex Tuch scored for the Sabres, who have won three of their past five.

Jayden Struble and Arber Xhekaj scored for Montreal. Joshua Roy had two assists and Sam Montembeault made 20 saves for the Canadiens, who have lost three in a row and five of their past six.

Xhekaj gave Montreal a 1-0 lead at 12:41 of the first period. Roy fell in the right corner as he battled with Buffalo forward Jordan Greenway, and his pass toward the left side went off a Sabres stick into the left circle, where a pinching Xhekaj collected it and fired a quick shot that beat Luukkonen short side.

Girgensons tied it at 1-1 at 4:20 of the second period when he deflected Henri Jokiharju’s point shot past Montembeault. Jokiharju got the shot off after tapping his stick to get the puck and taking a feed from Rasmus Dahlin.

Struble struck quickly off the faceoff to put Montreal back in front at 2-1. After Alex Newhook won the draw, Roy got the loose puck back to Struble, whose shot from the left point deflected off the stick of Sabres forward Peyton Krebs and into the far side of the net at 6:35 of the second.

Skinner tied it on the power play at 9:28. Canadiens forward Joel Armia tried to toe drag around Skinner in the offensive zone on a short-handed rush, but Skinner poked the puck away, leading to a three-on-one break going the other way. Montembeault stopped Dylan Cozens’ initial shot, but the rebound bounced to Skinner in the low slot.

Tuch capitalized with Buffalo short-handed to make it 3-2 Sabres at 18:08. A pass attempt to Mike Matheson bobbled past the Montreal defenseman’s stick at the blue line and went into the neutral zone, where Tuch was first to it and took off on a breakaway, beating Montembeault glove side.

The Canadiens came close to drawing even in the third period when Roy intercepted Jokiharju’s pass attempt across the slot and put a shot on goal that was saved by Luukkonen. The rebound stopped at the left post before Dahlin kicked it out of harm’s way.