It’s been a long time since Jhonas Enroth has been able to skate off the ice as a winning goaltender.
Wednesday night, the Buffalo Sabres netminder was able to do just that as picked up his second win of the season and his first since Oct. 25 in Buffalo’s 5-4 overtime win against the Boston Bruins at First Niagara Center.
After Matt D’Agostini scored the game-winning goal 22 seconds into the extra period, it seemed as if the players pouring off the bench could decide whether to celebrate first with D’Agostini or Enroth.
“You never know who to go to in that situation,” Sabres forward Brian Flynn said. “[Enroth] battled all night and has all season. I think the boys felt good to get the win for him.”
Enroth had gone 0-10-4 in his 14 decisions between wins. On Wednesday, he turned aside 29 shots to earn his first career win against Boston.
“I just tried to stay with my own game and focus on my own job and don’t really worry about the end there,” Enroth said. “That’s pretty much it.”
Sabres interim coach Ted Nolan liked to see the players on the bench go over to recognize Enroth after the game. He sees it as another step in developing a different type of culture within the dressing room.
“The one thing we’ve been trying to create here is a team-type of atmosphere,” Nolan said. “The guys really care for one another, they work together, so they know how long it’s been for Jhonas to get that win and you could see the way they went to him was a great sign.”
D’Agostini’s goal came thanks to a big burst of speed and Chara mishandling the puck at center ice. D’Agostini raced through the neutral zone, picked up the puck and went in on a partial breakaway against goaltender Chad Johnson.
He then put the puck home on a backhand past Johnson’s right skate for his fourth goal of the season.
“It feels good to just contribute,” D’Agostini said. “You get your chances and playing good is one thing, but to get a goal to help the team win feels pretty good.”
As in their game the night before against the Carolina Hurricanes, the Sabres scored a late third-period goal. Matt Moulson scored with 52.3 seconds remaining in regulation to tie the game 4-4 with Enroth pulled in favor of the extra attacker. With the goal, Moulson extended his point streak to four games (1+4).
The Sabres had jumped out to a 3-1 lead midway through the second period with goals from Zemgus Girgensons, Tyler Myers and Flynn.
Flynn recorded the first multi-point game of his career, picking up the goal and an assist on Girgensons’ first-period marker that came on their first shift 3:32 into the contest.
Boston, however, battled back to tie the game by the end of the second. Chris Kelly, Zdeno Chara and Brad Marchand led the Bruins rally. Then, 9:43 into the third period, Milan Lucic scored to give Boston a 4-3 lead.
When asked why it’s typically very difficult for teams to maintain two-goal leads, Nolan gave a blunt answer and then cracked a big smile.
“Once we get more two-goal leads, I’ll let you know,” he said.
To Moulson, maintaining the lead comes with concentrating on playing a game that doesn’t have a lot of bells and whistles to it.
“We were a little sloppy on their goals, especially. We have to clean a lot of things up,” he said. “When we keep it simple, we play a pretty good game and when we get away from that then that’s when the other teams capitalize on it. I think that was the case tonight but we kept battling and two points is really all that matters.”
The Sabres wrap up their three-game homestand with a match against the San Jose Sharks on Friday. They then hit the road for a three-game trip in which they’ll take on the Dallas Stars, Tampa Bay Lightning and Florida Panthers.