KANATA, ONTARIO – Lindy Ruff wanted Marcus Foligno to be “the best Foligno on the ice” tonight, and that’s exactly what happened.
Foligno’s first career NHL goal tied the game in the third period, and Tyler Ennis scored the shootout winner, as Buffalo came from behind three different times to defeat the Ottawa Senators 4-3 in front of 19,951 at Scotiabank Place.
The Sabres are 7-2-1 in their last 10 games, and are now tied at 72 points (32-29-8) with Winnipeg for 9th place in the Eastern Conference.
With the Sabres trailing 3-2, Foligno chased down Sergei Gonchar behind the Senators net and used his big frame to muscle the veteran Ottawa defenseman off the puck. Foligno corralled the puck, spun to the right side and fired a shot at the Ottawa net that caromed off a Senators defenseman before arcing over goaltender Ben Bishop.
“It was just one of those where it was better timing than anything,” said Foligno. “Hard work paid off there and I got a lucky bounce. I was really happy to tie the game up for the guys. I just really wanted to contribute tonight. I was hoping I’d score tonight. When you contribute like that it’s huge.”
Playing in just his second career NHL game, it was also the second time that Foligno had faced his brother Nick and the Senators – the first coming on December 19 of this season, also in Ottawa. Foligno was recalled Friday on an emergency basis from Rochester for the third time in a week, after making separate trips to both Vancouver and Winnipeg in the past seven days.
When asked after the game if he’d succeeded in following Ruff’s pre-game directive, Marcus seized the moment to one-up older brother Nick.
“I don’t know if my brother wants to hear this, but I think so,” Nick said with a smile. “I told him I’d have more points than him. It was just one of those things where Lindy told me that before I stepped out for the morning skate. Nick played hard tonight too, but I was just fortunate to get that bounce.”
Buffalo took the first eight shots of the game, but a costly gaffe by Tyler Myers on the power play led to Ottawa’s first goal. The six-foot-eight Myers jumped up at the Senators blueline to keep the puck in, but he was unable to control it. Erik Condra jumped on the loose puck and raced in untouched for the unassisted shorthanded tally at 8:27.
It took until 9:28 of the second for Buffalo to get on the board, thanks to the hard work of Christian Ehrhoff. He started the rush in the Buffalo end and continued up ice all the way to the front of the crease. Derek Roy moved down the left side and slid a pass to Nathan Gerbe in the high slot, and his quick shot got past Bishop who couldn’t see through the Ehrhoff screen.
Ottawa regained the lead at 11:42 when Erik Karlsson’s shot from behind the icing line in the Sabres corner took an unfortunate bounce off Miller’s left arm into the net. Despite being outshot 21-13 in the second period, Tyler Ennis sent the Sabres to the dressing room all even when he outworked Filip Kuba in front of the Senators net and buried a diving backhand shot with just 18 seconds left on the clock.
Karlsson, the NHL’s top scoring defenseman, added to his totals with his second of the game 7:14 into the third. Mike Weber fired a clearing pass up the middle of the ice that Karlsson intercepted at the blueline, and he fired a wrist shot that snuck through Miller for his 18th of the season.
Ryan Miller made 33 saves to earn the victory, including stopping 20 of 21 Ottawa shots in the second period.
1-0 OTT: Condra scored on a shorthanded breakaway after Myers lost control at the Ottawa blueline. (8:27)… Shots: BUF-12, OTT-7
1-1: Gerbe with a quick shot from the high slot off a pass from Roy while Ehrhoff screened Bishop in front. (9:28)… 2-1 OTT: Karlsson's shot from behind the net bounces in off Miller's left arm. (11:42)… 2-2: Tyler Ennis dove past Filip Kuba to backhand the puck into the open net. (19:42) … Shots: OTT-21, BUF-13
3-2 OTT: Karlsson gets his second of the game with a shot that snuck through Miller after a Weber giveaway (7:14)… 3-3: Marcus Foligno banks the puck off an Ottawa player and past Bishop for his first career goal. (14:06) … Shots: BUF-12, OTT-7
No scoring… Shots: BUF-4, OTT-1
SABRES NOTES:Matt Ellis left the game in the third period with an apparent leg injury. Ruff said afterwards that Ellis wasn’t doing well, and is expected to miss some time… Patrick Kaleta only played 5:10, and didn’t take a shift in the third period due to the recurrence of a neck injury that has nagged him for the past two seasons… Thomas Vanek (upper body), Cody McCormick (healthy) and Andrej Sekera (flu) were Buffalo’s scratches… Vanek wasn’t able to skate or workout on Saturday, and Ruff said it’s unlikely that he’ll play on Monday when the Sabres host Montreal at First Niagara Center.