Brendan Gallagher scored twice, including a tip-in on Shea Weber's shot, in leading the new-look Montreal Canadiens to a 4-1 season-opening victory over the injury-depleted Buffalo Sabres on Thursday night.
Al Montoya made 30 saves in place of starter Carey Price, who was sidelined by the flu. Andrew Shaw, who was acquired in a trade with Chicago in June, and Torrey Mitchell also scored for Montreal.
Injuries continued to mount for Buffalo after Evander Kane was taken to the hospital for further evaluation after he slammed heavily into the end boards late in the second period. The Sabres were already playing without second-year star centre Jack Eichel, who is out indefinitely with a sprained left ankle.
Matt Moulson scored a power-play goal for Buffalo to briefly cut Montreal's lead to 2-1 in the opening minute of the third period.
The Canadiens responded with two goals in just under five minutes.
Gallagher scored his second goal 6:43 in by deflecting in Weber's hard, rising snap shot from just inside the blue line. Weber was making his Canadiens debut after Montreal acquired the 11-year veteran by sending P.K. Subban to Nashville in June.
Shaw then scored by capping a frantic scramble in front, and after goalie Robin Lehner had already made two stops.
Very little went right for Buffalo which was also playing minus top-line forward Kyle Okposo (knee) and defenceman Dmitry Kulikov (bruised backside).
Kane was doubled-over in pain as he was escorted off the ice. He was hurt while racing Canadiens defenceman Alexei Emelin for a loose puck up the left wing in the Montreal zone. Kane reached out for the puck when the two bumped. Kane lost his balance, fell and slid with his left elbow slamming into the boards.
Gallagher opened the scoring 8:43 in, and then two former Sabres — Mitchell and Paul Byron — helped Montreal build a 2-0 lead early in the second period. Byron cut in from the left wing and out-muscled defenceman Casey Nelson in getting a shot on net. Mitchell then drove the slot to convert the rebound.