MONTREAL — Zemgus Girgensons statistically made a strong case to make the opening night roster, while fellow 2012 first-round pick Mikhail Grigorenko’s backhander was the only goal of the shootout as the Buffalo Sabres opened the preseason with a 5-4 win over the Montreal Canadiens in Bell Centre.
Grigorenko scored during the Sabres’ second attempt during the skills-competition portion of the game, while Matt Hackett denied all three Montreal shooters. Hackett stopped 11 of 12 shots in 35 minutes, 23 seconds of action. Jhonas Enroth started and yielded three goals on 13 shots. Coach Ron Rolston said before the game that both would play.
Girgensons scored twice in the second period, tying the game at 1-1 and 3-3. The Sabres forced overtime when Colton Gillies scored with 4:24 left in regulation off assists by Rasmus Ristolainen and Cody McCormick. Jamie McBain also scored for Buffalo, which returns to action Tuesday at 7 p.m. in Columbus against the Blue Jackets.
Girgensons played 18:53, second most among the forwards (Steve Ott was on the ice for 20:31, while five of the team’s defensemen played more than 20 minutes - led by rookie Ristolainen’s 23:21). Leino, Ott and Mark Pysyk each had assists.