MONTREAL - Michael Bournival netted a pair of markers, Erik Nystrom and Martin St-Pierre also added goals, while Greg Pateryn added a trio of assists, but the Canadiens still ended up losing their first pre-season game of 2013 with a 5-4 loss to the Buffalo Sabres.

Goaltenders Peter Budaj and Zach Fucale both surrendered a pair of regulation-time goals as they shared the workload for the young group of hopefuls in front of them.

The revelation for many fans was the proficiency of the line of Bournival, St-Pierre and first-round draft choice Michael McCarron, who showed great speed and chemistry while accounting for three of the team's four goals in the seesaw battle.

Many of the Canadiens in uniform Sunday are still in their teens and not expected to make the final cuts for the team.

The only veterans pencilled into the lineup were Budaj, Lars Eller and Brandon Prust, although St-Pierre, at 30 has also seen his share of pro hockey action.

The teams entered the final frame knotted at three until St-Pierre notched the go-ahead goal on a wrist shot at 12:59 but within three minutes the Sabres tied it as Colton Gilles netted the equalizer on a backhand.

Neither team was able to score in a five-minute overtime, leaving Fucale in a shootout battle against his counterpart Matt Hackett, nephew of a former Habs goalie Jeff Hackett.

The Sabres iced the victory in the shootout on a nifty move by Mikhail Grigorenko, who scored against Fucale for the only goal of the shootout as Hackett turned away efforts by Alex Galchenyuk, Lars Eller and Brendan Gallagher.

Zemgus Girgensons scored two for the Sabres while Jamie McBain and Colton Gillies also scored for Buffalo, who outshot Montreal 27-25.

After the game Coach Michel Therrien praised the young players, particularly the St-Pierre-McCarron-Bournival line.

He singled out McCarron, the 6'5" giant whose first-round selection by the club earlier this year raised a few eyebrows, as many considered him an unknown quantity before camp began.

“McCarron was involved physically in the corners and made nice players and that’s important for us but good for them too,” said Michel Therrien. “Tonight’s exercise was to give the most opportunity to young players and give them the experience that’s very important for them.”