DALLAS – Tyler Ennis returned to the Buffalo Sabres lineup Monday night and kept his hot hand on the burner while goaltender Jhonas Enroth did everything he could to keep Buffalo in the game.
However, Alex Chaisson of the Dallas Stars scored the game-winning on the power play with 9:35 remaining in the third period to give the Stars a 3-2 victory over the Sabres at American Airlines Center.
The Sabres had killed off four Star power plays in a row to that point, but Chaisson’s shot – the first on that fifth Dallas power play – came with 15 seconds remaining in the man advantage and found its way over the goal line.
Enroth made 36 saves in the game, including 13 on the penalty kill.
“The first couple periods, I didn’t think we were in that game at all,” Sabres interim coach Ted Nolan said. “If it wasn’t for Jhonas, I don’t think the score would’ve been as close as it was. But in the third period, we played a little bit better and then we took a bad penalty again. They capitalize and that was the difference.”
The Stars were called for only one penalty in the game to the Sabres’ six.
Buffalo came into the game on a season-high three-game winning streak, but were unable to make it four in a row.
“We didn’t skate as well as we did the previous games and took a lot of penalties,” defenseman Christian Ehrhoff said. “They got one in the end on the power play and it just wasn’t enough today.”
Ennis scored with 2:43 remaining in the first period to open the scoring and extend his point-streak to four games. When he scored again 3:23 into the third period to tie the game, 2-2, he recorded his ninth point (4+5) in his past eight games. Ennis missed Buffalo's last two games with general body soreness.
For Ennis’ first goal, Stafford fed a saucer pass over to Ennis from the left wing and with the assist, Stafford now has 12 points (6+6) in his past 11 games.
Not to be outdone, Matt Moulson picked up the secondary assist on that goal and the primary assist on Ennis’ second of the night. Moulson is now on a career-high six-game point streak. He has eight points during that stretch (2+6).
The Stars scored twice in the second to take the lead. Jordie Benn’s shot from the point beat a screened Enroth 1:30 into the period and another defenseman, Alex Goligoski, tallied with 5.1 seconds left in the second on a frantic sequence in front of the Sabres net. Kari Lehtonen made 21 saves for Dallas.
“I think they got some pretty good scoring chances all game long,” Enroth said. “They played great. They’re a pretty fast team and they kind of knew how we wanted to defend. They found a couple holes in our game.”
The Sabres came out in the third period and right, away tied the game with Ennis’ second goal. When that goal went in, the Sabres were being outshot 29-16.
On the goal, Jamie McBain’s shot from the point was deflected by Moulson in front of the net. The puck went up over the net, ricocheted off the glass behind the goal and out to Ennis who put it home from the right side.
“It’s fun to play with them,” Ennis said of his linemates. “Hopefully we can keep that combination together because it’s fun and we are playing really well. We’ll see what happens, but [we have] great chemistry.”
Enroth has started three of the Sabres past four games since the Olympic break and is taking advantage of the opportunity to prove he can be a No. 1 goaltender in the NHL. The Sabres traded starter Ryan Miller to the St. Louis Blues on Friday and, as part of the deal, received their netminder, Jaroslav Halak, in return.
Enroth has now made 36 saves in each of his last two starts. He made several great saves against Dallas, including a buzzer-beating, right pad save on Chiasson from in tight to end the first period. That save capped off a period in which he turned aside all 16 Stars shots he saw.
“It’s a nice little chance I’ve got here but I’m just trying to focus on myself and try to improve every day,” he said.
With the victory, Stars coach Lindy Ruff picked up his 600th career regular-season win behind the bench. He earned 571 of those during his 14-plus seasons while coaching the Sabres.
Buffalo traveled to Tampa Bay right after the game to prepare for their match against the Lightning on Thursday. That game will be played at 7:30 p.m. at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.