Buffalo Sabres defenseman Jaroslav Spacek, left, of Czech Republic, checks Montreal Canadiens center Saku Koivu, of Finland during the first period of a NHL hockey game in Buffalo, N.Y. on Friday, Nov. 23, 2007. (THE ASSOCIATED PRESS/Don Heupel)
BUFFALO, N.Y. - Thomas Vanek's goal-scoring slump came to a timely end.
Vanek scored to break a third-period tie and Tim Connolly had a goal and an assist and Ryan Miller made 30 saves to help the Buffalo Sabres beat the Montreal Canadiens 4-2 Friday night.
With the score tied at two and with Buffalo on the power play, Vanek knocked in his own rebound at 11:27 after his original deflection of Nathan Paetsch's shot was stopped by goalie Carey Price. It was his first goal since scoring against Florida on Nov. 2, a span of seven games.
"It's nice to finally get rewarded," said Vanek, who had four assists in his two previous games combined. "It was good timing."
Buffalo was awarded the man advantage when Montreal defenceman Michael Komisarek tripped Derek Roy just outside the Canadiens' blue line. Komisarek dove at Roy and appeared to touch the puck first before upending the Buffalo centre.
"I didn't see anything wrong with the play," Montreal coach Guy Carbonneau said. "He wasn't trying to trip him, he was trying to push the puck out of our zone. What happened after doesn't really matter. That's a hockey play."
Roy and Daniel Paille also scored for the Sabres, who matched a season high with their third straight win, but continue to linger in second-to-last place in the Eastern Conference.
"We can't take it for granted," Connolly said. "We've played solid the last few games, but we still have a ways to go."
Miller has been a critical component during Buffalo's recent success. He made his eighth straight start on Friday, and has allowed two or fewer goals in six of those games. Quite a difference from earlier in the year when he began by allowing three or more goals in seven of 10 starts.
"I've been trying to focus more on my game," he said. "Early in the season I was probably too worried about what everybody else was trying to do and trying to be bigger than my role."
Chris Higgins and Tomas Plekanec scored for Montreal, which lost for just the fourth time in regulation in 12 road games. The Canadiens have alternated wins and losses the past eight games.
Price finished with 28 saves, and had his personal three-game winning streak stopped. The rookie netminder lost for just the second time in regulation in eight starts.
"We could have played better," Price said. "They got to loose pucks better than we did."
The Canadiens were also stymied by Buffalo's penalty-killing unit. Montreal converted just one of six man-advantage opportunities after coming into the game with the top power-play unit in the league.
"Our penalty killing has been strong," Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said. "We knew that was going to be important."
Roy gave Buffalo a 1-0 lead with his team-leading eighth of the season nine minutes into the game, while the Sabres were on the power play. Standing in the high slot, Roy was able to redirect Maxim Afinogenov's hard pass from the right circle.
Connolly pushed Buffalo's lead to 2-0 with his second at 7:39 of the second period. Connolly banged home a rebound after Price turned aside Brian Campbell's shot, scoring for the first time in his last 12 games.
Montreal cut the deficit to 2-1 with a power-play goal by Higgins midway through the second, and tied it just five minutes into the third on Plekanec's seventh. Plekanec fought off Buffalo defenceman Jaroslav Spacek to go in alone on Miller, and made a nifty deke before sliding it home.
Paille capped the scoring with an empty-net goal with 14 seconds remaining.
Notes: Sabres RW Drew Stafford missed his first game because of a shoulder injury sustained Wednesday against Ottawa. He is expected to miss at least a couple of games. ... These two teams will meet again Saturday in Montreal. ... The Canadiens are in the midst of playing eight of 11 games on the road. They came in with the top road record in the Eastern Conference.