Thanks to their secret weapon, the Buffalo Sabres got a win they had to have.
Backup goaltender Jhonas Enroth stopped 29 shots for his third win in as many starts this season as the Sabres beat the Calgary Flames 2-1 on Friday night
The Sabres came into the finale of a five-game homestand with just one win due to their failure to put together a complete game. That changed on Friday, with Sabres firing 37 shots at backup goaltender Henrik Karlsson in the final 40 minutes and 44 overall.
“I thought our puck movement and execution was probably our best game of the year when it comes to that,” Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said. “Skating-wise, excellent game, and passing-wise. I've said when the puck movement is good from our defensive forwards, we get a lot of things done.”
Added forward Drew Stafford, whose first-period goal gave the Sabres (7-5-0) an early lead: "With the way things have gone, we needed a big win like this. We were going through a little bit of a rough patch, some tough games, and not necessarily playing a full 60 minutes. But tonight I thought that was a little bit different. We had a solid game against a team that has been playing pretty well."
They also had Enroth, who improved to 12-3-2 in his career even though he had his scoreless string of 107:39 snapped when Calgary's Alex Tanguay scored early in the third period.
"We finally got a win here, and everyone can stop talking that we can't win here," Enroth said after the Sabres won for just the second time in six games at First Niagara Center. "It was really nice, and we're back on track now."
Enroth's best saves came on consecutive chances from in tight by Matt Stajan and Tom Kostopoulos with five minutes to go in the first period. He also made four big saves during a 5-on-3 power play that lasted more than a minute in the second period with the Sabres clinging to a 1-0 lead.
"You need to bury something there," Flames coach said Brent Sutter said of the missed opportunity. "We never really started doing what we needed to do until we were down 2."
Stafford opened the scoring with his fourth of the season 7:59 into the game when he set up at the top of the left circle and one-timed Derek Roy's cross-ice pass behind Karlsson for his first goal since Oct. 15.
“It's one of things when things aren't going well, if you're going through a rough patch, you have to make sure that the work's still there,” Stafford said. “I knew eventually one would go in and it just happened to go in tonight, so it felt pretty good.”
Nathan Gerbe scored what proved to be the winning goal 1:45 into the third period, one-timing a shot from the right circle past Karlsson. Four minutes later, Tanguay redirected Jay Bouwmeester's pass into the net to spoil Enroth's bid for his second career shutout.
"Hank played unbelievable, and gave us a chance to get back in it," Flames captain Jarome Iginla said. "Yeah, we gave up a few too many shots, but we also had some good scoring chances. We just couldn't get the tying goal."
Karlsson, making his third start of the season, ended with 42 saves for Calgary (5-6-1), which failed to build on Thursday's 4-1 win in Detroit.
"In the end it was pretty close, but not enough," said Karlsson, who set a career-high for saves in his 21st career NHL game. "It's frustrating right now, but I'm sure I'll take something good from this game and keep working hard."
Material from team media and wire services was used in this report
1 - 0 BUF
2 - 0 BUF
2 - 1 BUF