THE BUTLER DID IT
Enroth makes career-high 44 saves in 3-2 shootout loss to Ottawa
Saturday, 12.31.2011 / 11:13 PM ET / THE AFTERMATH
By Kevin Snow - Sabres.com (@kwsnow)
The Sabres close out 2011 sitting in 11th place in the Eastern Conference with a record of 17-17-4 (38 pts.), three points behind Toronto.
Making his first start since December 10, Enroth admitted to having some jitters before the game.
“I was a little bit nervous before the game, but I just had to tell myself to relax and go out there and compete. Usually when I do that it’s working out well."
Buffalo took the early lead in a wide open first period that saw the Senators take 14 shots and ring another five off the posts behind Enroth. Sabres head coach was very happy with the performance Enroth turned in tonight.
“You need that. We had a few of their shots rattle off the iron but I thought he gave us a great chance to win the hockey game,” said Ruff. “He played very well. I thought under control, he looked confident. I can understand being just a little jittery at the start but I thought [he was] positionally sound, and it wasn't an easy start. They had a couple of flurries and he had to make some good saves for us.”
Brad Boyes broke a 15-game scoring drought when he opened the scoring for Buffalo on the power play. Sens netminder Craig Anderson seemed to get stunned by Jordan Leopold’s high blast, and Boyes pounced on the rebound for his first goal since October 27.
“It's not any rocket science how you score goals. You have to go to the net and get pucks there,” said Leopold. “We did that and got a big power play goal because of it. When you look at it, we need to play just a little bit better. It's tight right now and it's going to be tight the rest of the way out.”
The rest of the game’s scoring came during a wild span of 4:20 early in the second period.
Matt Carkner got Ottawa on the board at 1:55 when he stepped into the slot and roofed a shot over Enroth’s glove hand.
Less than two minutes later, Leopold picked up his second assist of the night when his point shot was tipped in front by Paul Gaustad for his third goal of the season.
But Ottawa tied it up again at 6:15 when Chris Neil broke in alone after taking a pass from Erik Condra. Sabres defenseman TJ Brennan gave chase, but Neil got a step on him and deked Enroth to even the score for good.
The teams were tied at two apiece after the first three rounds of the shootout, with Butler deciding things in the fifth round. Brad Boyes and Jason Pominville scored for Buffalo in the shootout, while Jason Spezza and Daniel Alfredsson tallied for Ottawa.
Nathan Gerbe returned to the Buffalo lineup tonight after missing the last 10 games with a concussion suffered on December 7 against Philadelphia. He skated 15:36, and Ruff was thrilled with his contributions.
“I thought he was tremendous. I thought he played great. Probably close to our best forward.”
NOTES: Zack Kassian (healthy), Christian Ehrhoff (upper body) and Tyler Ennis (ankle) were Buffalo’s scratches … Andrej Sekera (upper body) was placed on injured reserve prior to the game.