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Gionta scores 2 in leading snowbound Sabres to 4-1 win over Sharks

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BUFFALO, N.Y. - Brian Gionta had two goals and an assist in leading the Buffalo Sabres to a 4-1 win over the San Jose Sharks in front of a sparse, snowstorm-depleted crowd on Tuesday night.

Nicolas Deslauriers and Brian Flynn also scored for Buffalo, which won its eighth straight against San Jose, dating to the 2009-10 season. Jhonas Enroth stopped 20 shots over the final two periods after replacing starter Michal Neuvirth who did not return after sustaining a lower body injury in the first period.

Brent Burns scored for San Jose, which finished 3-4 on a seven-game road swing.

The Sabres improved to 16-1 all-time at home against the Sharks. Buffalo, coming off a 6-2 victory over Toronto on Saturday, also won consecutive games for the first time since a three-game streak late last February.

Too bad there weren't many to cheer on the Sabres.

The game was played in front of an estimated crowd of about 6,200, who turned up on a day a severe lake effect snowstorm dumped more than 4 feet of snow on communities south and east of Buffalo.

The storm even stranded Sabres forward Patrick Kaleta, who was snowed in and unable to leave his home.

The biggest cheer went up with 4:44 remaining when San Jose's Patrick Marleau had a goal overturned on a video review. Marleau got to the front of the net and backhanded a shot that sneaked in behind Enroth and was rolling over the line before Buffalo's Matt Moulson swept it away.

Initially called a goal that would have cut Buffalo's lead to 3-2, the review showed Moulson got to the puck before it crossed the line.

Gionta got the fans on their feet by breaking a 1-1 tie with 8:06 left, and 85 seconds after Burns scored. Corralling a rolling puck in the lower right circle on a pass from Flynn, Gionta slapped the puck inside the far post.

It was the team captain's first goal since signing with the Sabres in free agency last summer.

Gionta then set up Flynn on a 2-on-1 break to make it 3-1 with 12 seconds left in the period, and sealed the win with an empty-netter in the final minute.

Sharks rookie goalie Troy Grosenick stopped 10 shots and didn't fare as well as he did in his NHL debut in a 2-0 win at Carolina on Sunday. That's when he stopped 45 shots to become the league's 22nd goalie to register a shutout in his first game.

Neuvirth stopped all 10 shots he faced in the first period. He appeared to be hurt with 2:41 left. He was doing the splits after stopping Justin Braun's shot, when Sabres teammate Tyler Ennis crashed into the goalie. Ennis knocked the puck across the crease, but the goal was disallowed because the referee ruled Braun interfered with Neuvirth.

Enroth was sharp in coming in to start the second period. His best save came when he wasn't looking. Enroth had his back to the play after attempting to stop Tommy Wingels wraparound attempt at the left post. The puck dribbled to Jason Demers, who fired a shot off the goalie's back.

Enroth had little chance on Burns' goal, a hard one-timer that found the top left corner.

In announcing the game would be played, the Sabres asked fans to respect numerous driving bans that had been put in place in numerous communities. Fans unable to attend the game were provided the chance to exchange their unused tickets for a future game.

Postponing the game would have been difficult because the Sharks were travelling home to play Florida on Thursday night. San Jose makes only one more trip east: a seven-game swing from March 17-29.

NOTES: Sabres D Nikita Zadorov played his ninth game of the season. That leaves the Sabres needing to decide whether to have Zadorov's rookie contract kick in or return him to London of the Ontario Hockey League. ... After opening with 16 of their first 21 on the road, the Sharks head to San Jose for a six-game homestand. ... Sabres assistant GM Mark Jakubowski and head athletic trainer Tim Macre were also snowed in and unable to attend the game.

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