MONTREAL – Jonas Enroth had a smile that spoke of both exhaustion and satisfaction.
The Buffalo goaltender had just kicked out 32 shots—including 26 while protecting a lead in the second and third periods—to help the Sabres post a 3-2 overtime victory Tuesday over the previously red-hot Montreal Canadiens.
Steve Ott’s second goal of the game at 2:16 of the extra period, a rare power-play effort for the Sabres, clinched the victory after Montreal tied the score with a pair of third-period goals.
“I was just trying to focus on the next shot, stay sharp,” said Enroth. “It’s huge for us and it’s good we could finally win a game with a power-play goal.”
The shots against don’t tell all of the story of Enroth’s workload, as the Canadiens had 24 more attempts that missed the net.
The 24-year-old doesn’t get to play a lot behind No. 1 goalie Ryan Miller, but got the start in Montreal largely because he has never lost to the Canadiens. His record is now 3-0-0 against the Habs.
“It’s actually 4-0—I won an exhibition game up here too,” Enroth said with a laugh. “It’s always a lot of fun to play here.
“They’ve got a really good team this year, so this was probably the toughest win for me.”
Enroth may see more action in coming days. The Sabres have won only twice in their last eight games and Enroth was in net for both. He subbed for a sick Miller in a 3-1 win over the New York Rangers on March 12.
Ott and Tyler Ennis scored in the opening period for the Buffalo, which is 5-5-3 under interim coach Ron Rolston since Lindy Ruff was fired Feb. 20.
The Canadiens (19-5-5) entered the third period down 2-0 but got goals from Max Pacioretty and Colby Armstrong to tie the game.
But only 17 seconds into overtime, Montreal defenceman P.K. Subban took an open-ice run at Mark Pysyk and missed, with his stick catching the Sabres blue-liner for a high-sticking penalty.
Only two seconds remained on the man advantage when Ott shovelled the puck past Carey Price for the game-winner. The Sabres went into the game with the NHL’s worst power play.
Montreal coach Michel Therrien used Subban liberally during the team’s comeback, but wasn’t impressed with his penalty.
“It’s a bad penalty, especially with the effort the guys put in in the second and third,” said Therrien. “We’re going to take care of that internally and make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
The Canadiens ended a five-game winning streak, but still have only one regulation loss in their last 18 games (13-1-4) since a 6-0 loss to Toronto on Feb. 9.
“We went through the motions in the first period,” added Therrien. “We weren’t at our best, that’s for sure.
“But we never quit. I thought the guys worked really hard to make a comeback. Enroth played really well for them. As long as the effort is there, I’m going to be satisfied.”
Sabres scoring leader Thomas Vanek limped to the bench after taking a Christian Ehrhoff point shot off the hip area during a power play eight minutes into the second and did not return. The team said first that he had an upper-body injury, then changed it to lower-body after the game.
“We’ll have to go day-to-day,” said Rolston. “He’s limping around a bit.
“It will probably be a day-to-day, pain-tolerance thing.”
The Canadiens’ failure to clear the puck from their own zone led to two Buffalo goals in the opening period.
Ott jumped on a loose puck and wired a shot in off the post from the slot at 7:47 and Tyler Myers had a point shot go in off Ennis’ stick in front of Price at 18:59.
The Canadiens had an 11-2 shot advantage in the second period but failed to score, with Enroth’s best stop coming off Michael Ryder at the doorstep.
Pacioretty finally scored on Montreal’s 28th shot 7:04 into the third as he slid a shot in from the edge of the crease after some clever work by Brendan Gallagher behind the net.
Armstrong, with his second goal of the season and second in as many games, then deked to the backhand to beat Enroth at 16:09.
“What you saw in the latter part of the game is where we’re at right now,” added Rolston. “We had a two-goal lead, we played well, and then the confidence of our team faltered a bit, especially after they got the first one.
“I’m happy we caught ourselves, but that’s where we’re at right now. We have to build the confidence in those games to be able to finish them off. That’s another step.”
Notes: The Canadiens moved Gabriel Dumont to centre on the fourth line and promoted Armstrong to the third unit a game after he scored his first goal of the season. … Michael Blunden was returned to the Hamilton Bulldogs of the American Hockey League with Ryder back from an injury. … Tomas Kaberle sat out for Montreal, while Nathan Gerbe and John Scott were Buffalo’s scratches. Andrej Sekera missed out with an upper-body injury. … The ceremonial faceoff saw former world boxing champions Jean Pascal and Lucian Bute approach centre ice from opposite directions. They fight each other May 25 at the Bell Centre.