Before Tuesday night’s game against the Los Angeles Kings, the Buffalo Sabres were focusing on controlling the speed of the game and trying to slow down the Kings. Even though the Sabres were outshot in the game 34-16, the Sabres slowed down the Kings offense and defeated the Stanley Cups champs 1-0 at the First Niagara Center.
The Sabres only goal came just four minutes into the third period when Tyler Ennis took a pass from Matt Moulson to the net and beat Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick on the powerplay. From there, Jhonas Enroth stopped all 34 shots faced in order to solidify his first shutout of the year.
“You don’t want to go into a ‘slugfest’ with a champion,” Sabres head coach Ted Nolan said following the win. “They’re a big team, a heavy team, and we known we can’t battle them pound-for-pound. We thought we’d stick and bob and weave and ‘rope-a-dope’ a little bit, and it worked pretty well.”
For Enroth, it was his first shutout since April 11, 2013 when the Sabres beat the Philadelphia Flyers at the First Niagara Center, and it was the last time a Sabres goaltender recorded a shutout until Tuesday.
“This was actually one of my easier games,” Enroth said. “Everything was pretty controlled, and I put myself in a good position and I was pretty sharp all the time. It was perfect pretty much all the way through.”
The Kings top line of Justin Williams, Kopitar, and Gaborik were shut down early and often by the defensive pairing of 19-year old Nikita Zadorov and the 20-year old Rasmus Ristolainen. Zadorov played 21:59 of total ice-time with three hits and four blocked shots, while Ristolainen played 22:40 of total ice-time with one shot, four hits, and one blocked shot on the night.
Even though the Sabres did win the game, the Sabres need to try and do a better job of putting pucks on net and creating more chances.
“I think we still need to get more shots on net,” Ennis said. “I think we’re winning games with under 20 shots, and we gotta get more on the net. Jhonas has been playing great for us, but I think we played a really good defensive game tonight.”
The Sabres have now won 10 games on the season, and will look to continue winning on their four-game home stand. Buffalo will next play on Thursday night against the Calgary Flames at the First Niagara Center. Opening face-off is scheduled for 7 P.M.
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