Pacioretty’s hat trick lifts Habs over Sabres
MONTREAL — Max Pacioretty scored a hat trick as the Montreal Canadiens beat the visiting Buffalo Sabres 5-2 on Tuesday night in the first game back for both teams since the National Hockey League’s allstar break.
David Desharnais and Paul Byron also scored for Montreal (3014-7), while Carey Price made 36 saves.
Alexander Radulov and Phillip Danault each had two assists.
Dmitry Kulikov and Brian Gionta scored for Buffalo (20-20-9) late in the third period. Robin Lehner stopped 30 of 35 shots.
Pacioretty scored once per period en route to his second hat trick of the season.
His first of the night made it 1-0 at 17:27 of the first period. The Canadiens captain took a nifty backhand saucer pass from Radulov and roofed the puck on Lehner, who tried a traditional stack-the-pads save but got nowhere near the shot.
Pacioretty added his second at 7:48 of the middle frame, again cashing in a pass from Radulov from behind Lehner’s net.
With Montreal already leading 4-0 in the third period, Pacioretty got his stick on a loose puck in a frantic goalmouth scramble. The goals were his team-leading 22nd, 23rd and 24th of the season.
Montreal is now 11-4-2 in its last 17 games versus Buffalo.
Defenceman Nikita Nesterov made his Canadiens debut after being traded from the Tampa Bay Lightning last week.
Andrei Markov (lower-body injury) played his first game in six weeks. Markov and Nesterov skated together on the third defensive pairing.
Desharnais was also back in the lineup after missing 24 games with a knee injury.
The Sabres and Canadiens met less than two weeks ago, with Buffalo leaving the Bell Centre with a 3-2 come-from-behind overtime victory.
But in Tuesday’s contest the Canadiens secured the lead in the first period and never gave it up.
Stars’ Devin Shore reacts to scoring against Toronto Maple Leafs goalie Frederik Andersen, Tyler Bozak (42) and Jake Gardiner (51) in Dallas on Tuesday night. Dallas won, 6-3. For complete coverage, see thespec.com.