GOAL OF THE YEAR: QUARTERFINAL #1
Tyler Ennis takes on Cody Hodgson in the first Quarterfinal match-up.
Billy Idol may have been dancing with himself back in the 80’s, but Tyler Ennis was passing to himself on February 19 against the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Sabres were up 5-2 on the Pens late in the third period of their only afternoon home game of the season. Buffalo had already torched starter Brent Johnson for three goals in the first 22 minutes, and were now facing Marc-Andre Fleury in the Pittsburgh net. Ville Leino worked the puck along the half wall, and he fed it to Zack Kassian in the corner. Kassian skated towards the net and spotted Ennis in the slot. Ennis used a nifty spin move to get open, and was right next to Pittsburgh’s Paul Martin when he took the pass from Kassian. He then flipped the puck over a sliding Martin, taking his own pass and depositing the puck into the wide open net past a helpless Fleury to close out the scoring in a 6-2 Sabres victory.
Call this a “two-for-one” entry into the Goals of the Year showdown for newcomer Cody Hodgson. Acquired at the trade deadline from Vancouver, the 22-year-old Hodgson had gone 11 games without scoring a goal for his new club. In fact, he hadn’t scored a goal in 13 games dating back to February 23 with the Canucks. That was, until the Montreal Canadiens came to the First Niagara Center on March 21. Hodgson got the proverbial monkey off his back at 6:15 of the opening period on a solo rush through the Montreal zone where he split two defenders, and culminated with a wraparound that banked in off Montreal netminder Carey Price. He followed that up with an insurance goal in the third period, one-timing a nifty backhand pass from Derek Roy on the power play at 12:45 to make the final score 3-0 Buffalo.