BUFFALO, N.Y. – Jhonas Enroth’s style may be unorthodox, but he gets the job done when he spells starter Ryan Miller.
Enroth made 41 saves, Jason Pominville had two goals and an assist, and the Buffalo Sabres sent the sliding Columbus Blue Jackets to another defeat with a 4-2 win Thursday night.
Enroth has won both of his starts this season, and improved to 11-3-2 since making his NHL debut in 2010, and with his arms and legs flailing at times he was steady and sharp throughout, especially in the first two periods when the Sabres were outshot by a 33-19 margin.
“Even for us, when we shoot on him in practice he’s not the typical butterfly goalie we’re used to seeing, but he reads the play so well and gets the job done,” Pominville said. “I don’t care how you make a save, as long as it’s not in the net.”
Enroth’s acrobatics kept the Blue Jackets shooters shaking their head. Midway through the second period he made a terrific save on Columbus captain Rick Nash’s hard wrist shot from the left circle on a 2-on-1 break, then denied Vinny Prospal twice when the forward went in alone with six minutes to go in the second. Enroth first blocked Prospal’s initial shot, then denied the rebound attempt.
“I saw pretty much all the shots,” the rookie said. “I always want a lot of shots, you get into a groove and get a good sweat in.”
Brad Boyes had a goal and assist, Patrick Kaleta snapped a third-period tie, and Thomas Vanek added three assists for the Sabres (6-3-0), who won for the first time in three games played in Buffalo by snapping a two-game losing streak.
Boyes and Pominville both connected on the power play after Buffalo came in having converted just 1 of 17 chances.
“We went out early yesterday with the coaching staff and talked about it and figured stuff out,” Boyes said. “All five guys on the power play have to be cohesive, and we did that.”
Prospal and Fedor Tyutin scored while Steve Mason finished with 22 saves for Columbus (1-8-1).
“We can’t buy a break,” defenceman James Wisniewski said. “If we cut down the number of mistakes , we are going to win more than we lose. We make three mistakes tonight and the puck’s in the back of the net.”
The worst team in the league, the Blue Jackets have gone 0-8-2 on the road dating back to last season.
“We have to build on the positives,” Columbus coach Scott Arniel said. “We got 43 shots, and we got the opportunities. We’re playing hard and doing the right things, but (Enroth) found a way to keep them out of the net.”
Kaleta scored the winner with 5:52 to go in the third when his backhand from the left circle snuck past Mason, and Pominville’s power-play goal with 2:24 left iced it.
Down by a goal after two periods, Tyutin tied it at 2-2 with 9:09 left in regulation when he chipped in the puck in the slot with one hand after his cross-ice pass attempt was initially stopped by a backchecking and sliding Pominville.
Up by a goal after the first period, Pominville made it 2-0 4:51 into the second period when he banged home a rebound after Mason made a nifty left pad save on Vanek’s slap shot from the high slot.
Prospal cut the deficit to 2-1 with his fourth of the year with 7:50 left in the second. Cutting to the centre of the ice, he deposited a wrist shot into the top-left corner.
The Sabres struck first when Boyes scored a power-play goal with just under six minutes to go in the first period. From the left circle, he one-timed Vanek’s cross-ice pass to give Buffalo a 1-0 lead.
It was the second straight game that Buffalo had squandered a two-goal advantage. But unlike their loss against Tampa Bay on Tuesday when they grabbed an early 2-0 advantage, the Sabres put the pressure on after Tyutin’s goal.
“We stuck with it,” Pominville said. “We can be better, but we’ll definitely take the win.”
NOTES: The Sabres first official home win came against Anaheim when the two teams opened the season in Helsinki, Finland. … Buffalo improved to 4-4-0 all-time at home against Columbus. …. Blue Jackets C Jeff Carter missed his fifth game because of a foot injury. … Before the game the Blue Jackets recalled D David Savard from their AHL affiliate in Springfield, Mass., and activated D Theo Ruth off injured reserve and assigned him to Springfield. … Boyes scored in his second straight game after not scoring in Buffalo’s first seven games. … Vanek’s third assist game him 400 career NHL points, the 12th all-time Sabres player to reach that mark.