MONTREAL — The Buffalo Sabres made the most of the momentum when it swung their way, and the result was yet another disheartening loss for the Montreal Canadiens.
Jamie McGinn, Johan Larsson and Brian Gionta scored in the third period to spark Buffalo to a 4-2 win against Montreal at Bell Centre on Wednesday.
McGinn’s power-play goal at 7:34 tied the game 2-2, and Larsson gave the Sabres their second one-goal lead 4:12 later when he redirected Jake McCabe’s pass from the left corner past Mike Condon at 11:46.
Gionta, who was the Canadiens’ captain from 2010-14, scored into an empty net with 12.1 seconds remaining.
“They made a good push in the second [period],” Gionta said. “Obviously, toward the end, maybe the last five minutes of the first, we were able to take it a little bit to them. So they made a push back in the second to get a couple of goals there on us, but I thought we showed a lot of composure there in the third.”
Marcus Foligno scored in the first period and Robin Lehner made 33 saves for Buffalo (21-26-4), which won its second in a row in its first game since the All-Star break.
Dale Weise and Alex Galchenyuk scored in the second period to give Montreal a 2-1 lead.
“We didn’t like our second so we came out pretty hungry in the third,” Foligno said. “We know that’s a fragile team over there right now, and we’ve been there too, where things seem to not go your way all the time. You’ve got to keep on them, and stay on them and they find a way to lose. That was a good third period by us. I thought we had a lot of puck pressure and line rushes, and obviously a big power-play goal to tie the game.”
Condon made 28 saves for the Canadiens (24-24-4), who have lost four in a row and five straight at home. He made 32 saves in Montreal’s 4-2 loss at the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday.
The Canadiens are 5-20-1 since starting the season 19-4-3.
“I’m running out of things to say,” Montreal captain Max Pacioretty said. “It’s the same thing after every game; I’m saying, ‘It’s a complete letdown.'”
The Canadiens are in 13th place in the Eastern Conference with 52 points, five behind the Pittsburgh Penguins, who hold the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
“We are very aware that it is going to be very hard to make the playoffs,” Montreal coach Michel Therrien said.
McGinn tied the game when he got open in the slot to redirect defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen’s pass from the right point past Condon for his 11th goal. Rookie forward Jack Eichel got the secondary assist on McGinn’s goal to extend his point streak to three games. Eichel has three goals and five assists in his past six games.
Larsson put Buffalo ahead to stay with his second of the season by getting to the net in time to convert McCabe’s pass.
“We were a little rusty, slow there to start, but we had a break here,” Larsson said. “And as the game went on, it was a tight game and we knew we were in it, so in the third we went out and executed.”
Montreal had the first six shots on goal in the game before Foligno gave Buffalo a 1-0 lead with his fourth of the season at 5:10 of the first period. He was left unmarked in the low slot, took Zemgus Girgensons’ pass from the left corner and beat Condon with a low shot from the edge of the goalmouth.
“They came out strong,” McGinn said. “I think they lost [Tuesday] night, and they wanted to come out with some heat in front of their own fans so we did a good job of weathering the storm. [Girgensons] made a great play, hustling and then making the play over to Marcus. That was a huge goal to get us into the game. I think it was the first shot of the game and then the momentum changed and we got our legs under us and the rust came off.”
Galchenyuk scored a highlight-reel goal off a faceoff to give Montreal a 2-1 lead at 11:04 of the second period after Weise tied it with a power-play goal at 3:19.
Weise drew Montreal even at 1-1 with his 12th goal. He was parked at the left post and took Pacioretty’s pass off his skates before putting the puck into an open left side.
Montreal went ahead 2-1 shortly after Tomas Plekanec won a faceoff in Buffalo’s zone. Galchenyuk picked up the puck behind Plekanec and skated toward the left corner before cutting back to the net, slipping the puck between Sabres forward Ryan O’Reilly’s legs before beating Lehner with a backhand for his 13th goal.
Sabres forwards Sam Reinhart, who screened Condon on McGinn’s goal, and Nicolas Deslauriers and defenseman Josh Gorges returned from their respective injuries.