BUFFALO, N.Y. – Thanks to one of their best efforts of the season, the Buffalo Sabres got the win they were desperate to get.
Backup Jhonas Enroth made 29 saves, and Buffalo turned up the offensive pressure in a 2-1 win over the Calgary Flames on Friday night.
During a stretch that saw them lose four of five, the Sabres had failed to put together a complete game. That changed against the Flames, as they pumped 37 shots on Calgary backup goalie Henrik Karlsson over the first two periods alone.
“With the way things have gone, we needed a big win like this,” said Drew Stafford, who gave Buffalo a 1-0 lead in the first period. “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.”
The Sabres (7-5-0) were buoyed by their secret weapon Enroth, who improved to 12-3-2 in his career in his third start of the season. He had his scoreless string of 107:39 snapped when Calgary’s Alex Tanguay scored early in the third period.
With the win, Buffalo was able to finish its five-game homestand at 2-3-0.
“We finally got a win here, and everyone can stop talking that we can’t win here,” Enroth said. “It was really nice, and we’re back on track now.”
Making his second straight appearance after relieving ineffective starter Ryan Miller in Wednesday’s loss to Philadelphia, Enroth’s best saves came on consecutive chances from in tight by Flames forwards Matt Stajan and Tom Kostopoulos with five minutes to go in the first period.
He also made four big stops during a 5-on-3 Calgary power play that lasted just more than a minute in the second period, and was helped when Flames defenceman Anton Babchuk’s blast from the point rang off the crossbar.
“You need to bury something there,” Flames coach said Brent Sutter said. “We never really started doing what we needed to do until we were down two.”
Nathan Gerbe also scored for the Sabres.
Karlsson, making his third start of the season, ended with 42 saves for Calgary (5-6-1). The Flames have lost two of three, and failed to build on Thursday’s 4-1 win in Detroit.
“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.”
Gerbe upped Buffalo’s lead to 2-0 with his third of the season just 1:45 into the final period, one-timing a shot in from the right circle.
Tanguay spoiled Enroth’s shutout bid when he re-directed Jay Bouwmeester’s pass in the high slot at 5:45 of the third.
Stafford opened the scoring with his fourth of the season just under eight minutes into the opening period. From the top of the left circle he one-timed Derek Roy’s cross-ice pass past Karlsson.
“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.”
NOTES: Sabres D Robyn Regehr played 11 season for the Flames before being traded to Buffalo in the off-season. … Buffalo RW Patrick Kaleta began serving his four-game suspension for head-butting Flyers forward Jakub Voracek in the first period of Buffalo’s loss to Philadelphia on Wednesday. … Stafford snapped his seven-game goal-scoring drought. … Karlsson made his first start since Oct. 20 against the New York Rangers, a span of five games. … The Flames are in the midst of playing five of six on the road. They travel to Colorado to play the Avalanche on Sunday. … Buffalo is 8-0-1 including a tie at home against Calgary since March 1996.