Ristolainen had been caught up ice but the Habs fired wide of the net on their break. The puck careened off the boards and the Buffalo defenseman burned down the ice en route to his second goal of the season.
Video: Ristolainen scores in OT for 6-5 Sabres win
It was a crazy game that saw the Sabres take four leads, only to see Montreal come back to tie each time. The Habs went ahead, 5-4, late in the second on a short-handed goal by former Sabre Nicolas Deslauriers but Buffalo tied it at 2:20 of the third on Jeff Skinners second goal of the game.
Skinner and Vladimir Sobotka scored two goals apiece for Buffalo, with Skinner pushing his total to 11 — and all of them coming in the last 12 games. Montreals Max Domi, who had two goals against Buffalo on Oct. 25 in KeyBank Center, had three assists for the Habs in this one.
Linus Ullmark struggled in the Buffalo net, getting pulled after two periods as he gave up five goals on 32 shots. Three of them were certainly questionable. Carter Hutton relieved him and made a huge stop as Artturi Lehkonen broke in short-handed just 15 seconds into the third period.
Skins Game: Skinners 10th of the season came at 5:46 of the second period to snap a 3-3 tie and put the Sabres into a 4-3 lead. The goal came as he drove home a quick shot from the right circle after Jack Eichels drive beat Carey Price but boomeranged off the goalpost directly to Skinner.
Getting Even, Part 4: Tomas Tatar pulled the Habs into a 4-4 tie at 10:17 with a tap-in off a 2-on-1 break, a common theme in the game. It came on Max Domis third assist.
A friends revenge: Deslauriers burned the Sabres for a short-handed goal with 1:57 left in the second period as he streaked through the right wing on Ullmark and unleashed a quick snapshot that beat the goalie through the legs. It was his first goal of the season.
Deslauriers, acquired in a trade with Buffalo last year, had 10 goals for Montreal last season. He did not score for the Sabres in 42 games of the 2016-17 season.
Frenzied First: The teams split six goals in the first period, which ended in a 3-3 tie after Montreal outshot the Sabres, 17-13, and came back to knot the score three times.
Sobotka had both of his goals in the period, opening the scoring with a tap-in on a 2-on-1 from Rodrigues, and getting his second at 14:40 to make it 2-1 by jamming home a Rodrigues rebound. Montreal challenged for goalie interference on Nathan Beaulieu, who appeared to slightly push Carey Prices pad with his stick, but the call on the ice stood.
Quick responses I: Montreal forged a 2-2 tie just 10 seconds after Sobotkas first goal when Matthew Peca went around Johan Larsson and fooled Ullmark with a dribbler between the goalies legs.
Back in front: Conor Sheary scored his sixth of the season at 15:52, driving home a Casey Mittelstadt pass to put the Sabres in front, 3-2.
Quick response II: Montreal tied it again at 16:26 as a shot leaked through Ullmark and Andrew Shaw poked it into an empty net.
Back and forth: Map it out, and the teams split four goals over a span of 1 minute, 46 seconds in the first period.
No 40 in 4: The Sabres failed in their effort to get 40 shots on goal for the fourth straight game, ending with 31. They had last hit 40 in four straight in 1975.
Ouch alert: Patrik Berglund took a Jeff Petry shot to the foot while killing a penalty in the final minute, dove to get the puck out of the zone and then hobbled to the bench. He slowly headed off the ice to the dressing room at the horn but returned for the second period.
Up Next: The Sabres returned home after the game and will practice Friday in KeyBank Center. They host surprising Vancouver, featuring rookie sensation Elias Pettersson, in a matinee Saturday at 1.
Share Share Buffalo Sabres Top Canadiens in OT Thriller tweet share Reddit Pocket Flipboard Email Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports Despite having a tough game, Rasmus Ristolainen played the hero Thursday night as the Buffalo Sabres topped the Montreal Canadiens 6-5 in an action-packed, heart-wrenching game. This game had it all: power plays, penalty kills, leads, deficits, big saves and more.
Early on, Buffalo found themselves on the penalty kill, as Jeff Skinner was called for hooking just 1:03 into the game. They quickly went down two men as Zemgus Girgensons joined him in the box on a high-sticking call 46 seconds later.
After successfully killing both penalties, the Sabres opened the scoring just over six minutes in. Evan Rodrigues and Vladimir Sobotka found themselves on a 2-on-1 against Montreals Victor Mete; Rodrigues, coming up the right side of the ice, fed the puck to Sobotka, who took a quick shot to capitalize on the opportunity.
Buffalo held their first lead of the night for just over three minutes before Jonathan Drouin evened the score.
Five minutes later, the Sabres regained the lead on Sobotkas second of the night. Once again, the goal was created in part due to a nice play by Rodrigues, who got the puck to the net before Sobotka put it in the five-hole. Montreal challenged for goaltender interference, as it appeared Nathan Beaulieus stick may have hit Carey Price foot, but it was ruled a good goal.
That lead lasted a measly 10 seconds before the Sabres gave up another goal. Defensive miscues and Linus Ullmark failing to hold tight to the post allowed Matthew Peca to score his first goal of the season, tying the game at two.
The scoring continued. Just 1:02 after Pecas goal, Buffalo was back up, thanks to Conor Shearys sixth of the season. Sheary now has goals in three straight games.
But once again, the Sabres failed to maintain a lead. Some 34 seconds after Shearys goal, Andrew Shaw took advantage of a chance to tie the game at three, and thats how the teams skated off after twenty minutes of play.
It was much of the same to start the second period. Jeff Skinner tallied his 10th goal of the season to regain the lead for Buffalo – a lead theyd hold for 4:43 before Tomas Tatar tied it.
Former Sabres forward Nicolas Deslauriers gave Montreal their first lead of the game with under two minutes to play in the second period, beating Ullmark for his first of the season on a shorthanded tally.
After allowing five goals in two periods – at least a few of which were his fault – Linus Ullmark was pulled in favor of Carton Hutton to start the third.
The Sabres wasted no time tying the game in the third period. Jack Eichel won a face-off in the zone, stepped around a fallen Montreal Canadiens player and got it to Skinner right in front of the net to make it a 5-5 game.
Shortly after tying it, the Sabres once again found themselves facing a two-man deficit as first Jake McCabe, then Rasmus Ristolainen, went to the penalty box. Once again, Buffalo successfully killed both penalties (or is it just that Montreal failed to capitalize? The Habs, after all, came into Thursdays game with a 15.3% power play, 25th in the league.)
Fueled by the goaltending change, the Sabres powered through the rest of the third period and earned a point after pushing the game to overtime.
Buffalo then earned the extra point – and the win – when Rasmus Ristolainen scored his second goal of the season 1:38 into overtime. After a giveaway and a scoring chance at one end by Montreal, the puck came loose after missing the net. Ristolainen picked it up and shot up the ice with only one Habs player near him; he shot a rocket from the face-off circle to the right of the net to snipe the game-winner.
The Sabres went 0-for-3 on the power play and had five successful penalty kills in Thursday nights win. They gave up just five shots in the third period and held Montreal without a shot in the overtime period.
Ristolainen led all players from both teams with 26:25 ice time and also had four hits – including the smasher on Shaw in the third. Jack Eichel, Sam Reinhart and Rodrigues each registered a pair of assists. Skinner and Sobotka each had two goals.
That being said, theres still some room for improvement after Thursday nights win. Marco Scandella and Ristolainen both struggled at times during the game, with Scandella registering four giveaways. Nathan Bealieu played a part in Montreals first goal and then nearly cost the Sabres their second goal on goaltender interference. Ullmark let in some goals that he shouldnt have, and the Sabres took some careless penalties that put them down by two men when they were trying to maintain a lead.
The Sabres face some tough opponents ahead, starting with the Vancouver Canucks at home on Saturday. The Canucks are second in the Western Conference and beat the Boston Bruins 8-5 Thursday night, so theres definitely some potential for Saturdays game to be strong on the offense.