Jhonas Enroth made 34 saves in net for the Buffalo Sabres on Thursday, but, yet again it wasn’t enough.
Enroth has started 13 games for the Sabres this season, but has received only 17 goals in support in those games. It was another one-goal affair for Buffalo as they fell to the Florida Panthers 2-1 in the shootout at First Niagara Center.
“He’s been playing great hockey for us and he gave us a great chance to win,” Sabres defenseman Mike Weber said. “We’re having a tough time closing them out for him. It’s unfortunate. He’s been playing great hockey again so that’s our fault, missing.”
In the shootout, Enroth made two saves on three Panthers attempts. He first made a glove save on Aleksander Barkov and then in the bottom of the second frame, the officials ruled that Jonathan Huberdeau pushed Enroth’s pad in order to get the puck over the goal line. Upon review, the no-goal call stood.
“My first reaction was that he pushed me in, but then if you look at it after, I don’t know,” Enroth said. “It’s a tough call.”
Brad Boyes ended it in the bottom of the third round on a shot that hit the post, bounced off Enroth and then over the line. Boyes ranks first among active skaters with 37 shootout goals.
“I don’t know if it’s bad luck. He’s obviously one of the best in the League in shootouts and it’s pretty much impossible to stop him in shootouts,” Enroth said. “It’s a great shot. I have to give it to him. It’s a great shot.”
Boyes also scored the game-tying goal 9:16 into the third period after deflecting in a Tom Gilbert shot from the right faceoff dot. Tim Thomas made 23 saves in victory.
Buffalo was not able to score in the shootout.
The posts had been Enroth’s friends for much of the night. The Panthers hit iron five other times throughout the game.
“If they hit the post, they don’t really hit the net,” he said. “I guess it was a little bit of luck, but at the same time, a couple of those shots I saved and they hit the post, especially on Boyes there 5-on-3. It’s both luck and skill I guess,”
Enroth has only one win this season and hasn’t won a home game since April 14, 2013.
He was named to the Swedish Olympic hockey team earlier this week and was looking forward to the chance to prove any critics wrong.
“I was very excited to play obviously after being selected to the Olympic squad and I wanted to go out there and show everybody that I earned it,” Enroth said.
The Sabres had an extra day off this week after their game Tuesday night against the Carolina Hurricanes was postponed due to inclement weather. The game has since been rescheduled for Feb. 25 at 7 p.m.
Sabres interim coach Ted Nolan was not happy with his team’s effort.
“They seemed to be well rested. With the mandatory four days off a month, you’re not tired. You shouldn’t be tired,” he said. “I don’t know. Tonight was just one of those games you just want to forget about.”
“It was a great play, even to start it in the D-zone. We won on a battle on the wall to get it chipped out and I saw the opportunity to make it an odd-man rush,” McBain said. “[Matt Moulson] made a great play to get it back to [Ott]. It was an incredible pass. I was pretty open in the slot and he found me. I tried to get it through and was able to find a hole.
It was McBain’s third goal of the season and his first since Nov. 16.
“I’m an offensive guy. I want to produce and help the team be successful in that manner,” he said. “I’ve had the chances, I’ve had the shots and they haven’t been going in for me. So this is definitely a sigh of relief and hopefully I can continue to be involved and get some opportunities.”
The Sabres then held the lead into the third period after killing off a Panthers 5-on-3. With 30 seconds left in a penalty to Alexander Sulzer, the Sabres were called for too many men on the ice with 3:41 remaining in the period.
Enroth made two key stops on Brad Boyes and then Sean Bergenheim to help Buffalo get out of penalty trouble unscathed.
“Anytime you can kill off big penalties like that it’s a big boost for you and I thought we got out to a sluggish start,” Weber said. “We picked it up through the first. Second period, a couple kills back-to-back there and the 5-on-3 gave us a little boost.
“We had a strong second and again, it’s going to come back down to we’ve got to find ways to score goals and find ways defensively in the third period when we’re up goals to really step on guys’ throats and end it.”
The Sabres next travel to Washington where they’ll face the Capitals at 3 p.m. on Sunday at Verizon Center.