BUFFALO — Ben Scrivens did everything but drop the gloves Wednesday night as he led the Canadiens to a 3-2 overtime win over the Buffalo Sabres.
Scrivens made 41 saves, including five in the overtime, and he said that he was willing to fight if his team needed him.
The possibility arose late in the second period as hostilities broke out around the Buffalo net. Sabres goaltender Robin Lehner became involved in the scrum, grabbing Michael McCarron by the helmet when he was on the ice and then making some gestures toward Scrivens, who came out to the blue line. That’s as far as the rules allow, and an official skated out to warn him about going any further.
“If my teammates needed me, I would have gone although it might have been a mismatch because (Lehner) is a big boy,” said Scrivens. The goaltender noted that he has never fought at any level, although he did have a run-in earlier in his career when he thought current teammate Brendan Gallagher was crowding his crease.
Scrivens noted that Lehner was gesturing for him to join the fray, and the two exchanged pleasantries as they passed on the way to the dressing rooms at the end of the period.
“I know him a little bit and I’d say we’re friends, but he can get worked up,” said Scrivens.
Scrivens’s major contribution to his teammates was stopping the puck. The Sabres held a 43-22 edge on the shot clock and had five shots in the overtime until Paul Byron scored at 3:45 to give Montreal the win.
“He’s the reason we were in the game,” Byron said when asked about Scrivens’s play. “He made big save after big save.”
Byron said his ninth goal of the year started out as a pass attempt.
“I was coming down the wing and I saw Torrey (Mitchell) get his tick down as he was going to the net,” said Byron. “I was trying to get the puck to him and it hit a defenceman and went in.”
The Sabres had a chance to win the game a moment earlier when Andrei Markov was knocked down in the Canadiens’ zone and Brian Gionta had a shot from point-blank range but failed to get a Class A shot.
“In those situations, you don’t have time to think, you just try to read and react,” said Scrivens.
For a game between two teams with little to play for, it was a spirited affair. While there were no actual fights, there were 100 minutes in penalties, including six 10-minute misconduct penalties and four penalties for unsportsmanlike conduct.
Coach Michel Therrien was concerned about the rough ride Alex Galchenyuk was getting from the Sabres and he gave the young star some protection by putting Mike Brown on the line with Galchenyuk and Max Pacioretty.
Therrien said he was pleased with the effort put forth by his team because he wasn’t pleased with the performance in Tuesday’s 4-1 home loss to Florida.
“We were tired because we played last night, but the effort was there,” said Therrien.
Markov and Greg Pateryn scored the other Montreal goals and it was Pateryn’s first NHL goal. He played 21 minutes and said he relished the physical nature of the game. He had four hits and blocked three shots.
Markov’s goal came on the power play as the Canadiens went 1-for-6, and he joked afterward about the Canadiens having to use Alexei Emelin on the power play. Markov was on the ice for a game-high 30:55.