Canadiens' second-period outburst sends Sabres to ninth loss in 12 games

MONTREAL -- The Montreal Canadiens feel they have plenty of
room for improvement despite a victorious start to the longest
homestand in their 100 years of existence.

Andrei Markov scored Montreal's third goal of the second period
to send the Canadiens to a 3-2 win over the Buffalo Sabres on
Saturday night.

Andrei Kostitsyn and Steve Begin also scored in the middle
period for Montreal.

"We're still up and down, we're still looking for our game and
I think we can play better," Markov said.

Thomas Vanek scored twice for Buffalo to regain the NHL scoring
lead from Philadelphia's Jeff Carter with 17 goals.

The Sabres have lost nine of their past 12 games (3-8-1).

"We had the lead twice and let them come back, and when you let
a team as good as Montreal come back in it, chances are you're
going to lose," Vanek said.

Carey Price made 26 saves to win his second in a row.

Montreal, which improved to 4-2-2 in its past eight games, began
its longest homestand in team history following a 3-0 loss in
Washington on Friday.

"If you look at our last six or seven games, I feel that we've
played really well defensively -- if you take away that game
[Friday] night," coach Guy Carbonneau said.

The Canadiens will also face Atlanta, the New York Rangers, New
Jersey, Calgary, Tampa Bay and Washington during their homestand,
which ends Dec. 13.

Markov put Montreal ahead 18:30 into the second period when he
took Saku Koivu's centering pass and beat Patrick Lalime from the
slot for his third goal of the season.

"[Markov] knows how to get open and I saw him just out of the
corner of my eye, but it was too late, he was already there,"
Lalime said.

Vanek ended a four-game goal drought to open the scoring with a
highlight-reel power-play goal 13:31 in. He put his stick between
his legs to tap a puck past Price from the goalmouth.

"It ended up coming to me, bouncing, and I knew that if I would
just turn around and shoot it that Price is solid in there, so I
had to get him off because I was in so tight," Vanek said. "I
just tried to put it between my legs and it worked out."

He added his second of the game - his 17th goal to move ahead of
Carter for the league lead - 7:39 into the second period to put
Buffalo up 2-1.

Kostitsyn drew Montreal even at 1 with an unassisted goal 2:51
into the second. Kostitsyn fanned on his initial shot but recovered
the puck to put a backhand past Lalime.

Begin drew Montreal even for the second time in the period at
13:40 as he one-timed Maxim Lapierre's pass from the left side and
beat Lalime for his third goal.

"We've been practicing that every day," Begin said. "Every
practice, that's all we do, Max and I, and finally it worked out,
and it worked pretty good tonight."

The Sabres killed a full 2-minute 5-on-3 Canadiens power play
5:58 into the third after Jaroslav Spacek was called for holding
and Adam Mair was sent off for elbowing.

Game notes
Lalime stopped 31 shots. ... Sabres G Ryan Miller had
appeared in 12 of Buffalo's past 13 games, including 11 starts,
going 5-5-1 over that stretch. ... Canadiens LW Alex Tanguay missed
his second straight game. He is day to day because of a neck injury
he suffered during Wednesday's 3-1 win in Detroit.