It required a shootout to decide, but the Ottawa Senators managed to beat Jhonas Enroth on Saturday night.
The Senators fired 46 shots on the Buffalo Sabres' goaltender, but they needed Bobby Butler to tally the decisive goal in the fifth round of the shootout for a 3-2 victory at First Niagara Center.
Chris Neil and Matt Carkner scored and Erik Condra had two assists for the Senators, who improved to 5-1-1 in their past seven games. Craig Anderson picked up the victory in a 26-save performance.
"We felt we had to keep going, keep shooting and it would go our way," Butler said.
Brad Boyes and Paul Gaustad scored and Jordan Leopold had two assists for the Sabres, who dropped to 1-5-1 in their past seven games. Enroth was hardly to fault for this one, as he stopped 44 shots, including a spectacular save on Jason Spezza's snap shot from point-blank range with 12 seconds left in overtime.
"I felt good out there tonight," Enroth said. "I was a little bit nervous before the game, but I told myself to relax and compete. Usually when I do that, it works out well for me."
Butler sealed the win after each team had scored twice in the shootout -- and after Buffalo's Drew Stafford didn't fool Anderson in trying to jam his attempt on the short side. Driving to the net, Butler faked several shots to get Enroth on his heels. Enroth eventually backed up inside his own net, and Butler easily flipped the puck over the fallen goalie.
"Bobby played real well tonight," Ottawa coach Paul MacLean said. "We didn't get it in regulation, but I thought our team played well. We shot the puck real well."
The Senators outshot the Sabres 29-20 through two periods and 46-28 overall. That didn't include the six posts Ottawa players hit: four alone in the opening 20 minutes as the Senators "rang" in the new year.
"We had a few of their shots rattle off the iron," Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said. "But I thought (Enroth) gave us a great chance to win the hockey game. He played very well."
The string of shots hitting posts began in the opening minute, when Condra snapped one off the iron from the left circle. It didn't end until there was a minute left in the third period, when Butler streaked up the left side and slapped a shot off the near post.
The Senators were coming off a 4-3 overtime win over Calgary on Friday in a game Ottawa rallied from a 3-0 deficit to win on captain Daniel Alfredsson's 400th NHL goal.
"The first period was crazy -- just post after post," Butler said. "We got a couple of bounces our way. It was a little bit different in the first."
The teams traded three goals during a 4:20 span early in the second period.
Carkner tied the game at 1 by driving in from the right point and snapping a shot past Enroth. After Gaustad tipped in Leopold’s shot from the right boards, the Senators tied it 6:15 into the frame when Neil converted on a partial break by faking a forehand shot and beating Enroth with a backhander.
Boyes had opened the scoring four minutes in by converting a rebound in front.
The Sabres had a goal disallowed with 11:52 remaining because the net had been knocked off its posts.
Driving up the left side, Patrick Kaleta got in around Carkner and was hauled down by the defenseman while driving to the net. Kaleta got a shot off, and the puck dribbled into the slot where Gaustad flipped it in just after Kaleta crashed into the net.
"We've just got to keep trying to grind it out," Ruff said. "We did a lot of good things."
Material from wire services and team media was used in this report