A second shutout in a row wasn’t meant to be for Jhonas Enroth and the Buffalo Sabres, but a second win in a row will do just fine. Buffalo made it two-for-two on this four-game home stand by topping the Calgary Flames 4-3.
“It wasn’t one of our better games, but it showed the belief factor starting to creep in,” said head coach Ted Nolan following the contest. “The biggest thing is we got those two points.”
The line of Zemgus Girgensons, Tyler Ennis, and Matt Moulson, deemed the “GEM” line, certainly had one of its better games—maybe it’s best all year. The three players accounted for three of Buffalo’s goals on the night and ended the contest with seven points between them.
“Ever since we put that [GEM] line together, it’s kind of sparked everybody,” added Nolan.
Not initially, however.
The game needed some time before it heated up, but on night where Buffalo received another wintry snowfall, Western New Yorkers should be understanding of a chilled start.
After a scoreless first period that saw Buffalo and Calgary combine for just 17 shots on goal, the two teams went full throttle for the remaining 40 minutes and gave the 18,208 in attendance at First Niagara Center plenty of things to cheer [and boo] about.
The teams traded blows on the scoreboard in the second period, with Moulson and Marcus Foligno notching their ninth and third goals on the year, respectively, while Calgary’s Mark Giordano and David Jones collected their eighth and fifth goals this season.
Foligno appeared to have secured his second goal of the night off a tip-in on a shot from the blue-line, but the goal was waved off on high-stick, drawing a chorus of grumbles from the crowd.
They cheered quite a bit when Chris Stewart, fresh off being a healthy scratch, traded physical blows with Brandon Bollig in a spirited fight that saw the combatants pummel one another, and then pat another on the back as they skated to the penalty box.
Both teams carried their momentum into the third, but Buffalo’s load was just a tad heavier. After falling behind on a Sean Monahan goal a little over three minutes in, the Sabres rebounded with two goals in three shots.
Girgensons tallied his ninth of the year on a lightning-fast shot from the center of the left circle, and Moulson added his second on the night less than five minutes later as he crashed the Calgary crease, deflected the puck in off a shot by Ennis, and tumbled over Flames’ netminder Karri Ramo.
The win gave the Sabres their eight win in their last 11, decidedly one of the best stretches of play in Nolan’s second tenure as Buffalo’s head coach.
“Now we’re seeing those bounces, and I think our hard work is paying off,” said Moulson with a smile reaching across his face following the win.
Buffalo’s home stand will continue this Saturday as they welcome the Florida Panthers back to First Niagara Center, just a week removed from their last meeting. Saturday’s contest is scheduled for a 7:00 PM EST puck drop.