|Buffalo Sabres' Tyler Ennis (63) is pressured by Boston Bruins' Johnny Boychuk (55) and Patrice Bergeron (37) during the first period of a first-round NHL playoff hockey game in Buffalo, N.Y., Friday, April 23, 2010. (AP Photo/ David Duprey) |
You know the cliché -- it's not the size of the dog in the fight, it's the size of the fight in the dog.
You might have a dog that weighs more than Buffalo Sabres left wing Tyler Ennis
, who stands tall at 5-foot-9 and checks in at 163 pounds. Ennis, 20, Buffalo's first-round pick (No. 26) in 2008, was named the second star of Friday's 4-1 victory over the Boston Bruins in Game 5 that enabled the Sabres to avoid elimination from their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal. They trail the best-of-7 series 3-2, heading to Boston for Game 6 on Monday.
Ennis was placed on a line with team leaders Derek Roy
and Jason Pominville
, who had both been limited to one point in the series.
Ennis has worked hard throughout the series and his efforts were rewarded late in the first period when he took the puck away from Boston's Vladimir Sobotka just inside the Bruins' blue line. Roy picked up the loose puck and fired a hard pass to Pominville, who fought off a check to beat Tuukka Rask and send the Sabres to the dressing room with a 2-0 lead after one period.
Ennis played only 10 regular-season games but he had nine points (3 goals, 6 assists). He was called up for a game in Philadelphia in November, then played the last nine games of the season when center Tim Connolly was hurt.
"My first few games, there was a lot of adjustment and there's still a lot of adjustment for me but every game, I'm getting a little more confident and making better plays."
Right after the Bruins scored to make it 3-1 at 17:30, Pominville dumped a puck into the Bruins end and Ennis outraced defenseman Dennis Wideman before diving and sweeping his stick to knock the puck into the empty net for the clincher.
"Great effort! Fast little guy, huh?" winning goalie Ryan Miller
said. "That was heads-up. He almost had a breakaway earlier in the period. ... He's a really smart player and I'm happy that he's been able to contribute."
Ennis said he and his linemates played the kind of game that they're capable of -- and that the Sabres had to have.
"I think we played 60 minutes," he said. "We played really hard throughout the whole game. We were disciplined and played the system really well. (My linemates) played great. I thought we worked really well together down low in their zone. We just have to keep doing that."
Ennis may have earned more ice time from a very please coach Lindy Ruff.
"Ennis is learning from different situations on the ice," Ruff said. "He has a hell of a lot of fun playing. For a guy that's his size, trying to run over guys that are twice his size, he just puts a smile on a coach's face."
Ruff was referring to an open-ice hit on Ennis by Boston defenseman Johnny Boychuk, whose checking has put both Thomas Vanek
, Buffalo's leading goal scorer, and defensive center Matt Ellis
out of the lineup. Boychuk had Ennis lined up near the red line but Ennis bounced off him and never went down.
Boychuk doesn't hit that hard? Ennis was asked.
"I saw him coming at the last minute," he said, "and just tried to brace myself."