November 26th, 2011 was the last time when Sabres backup netminder Jhonas Enroth secured an NHL win. Since then, he has accrued 13-straight decision losses, and 16 total appearances where he was a part of a Sabres loss.
He ended that drought tonight as he carried the Sabres to a 3-1 victory over the New York Rangers inside a sold-out First Niagara Center.
“It feels good right now to finally get that win,” Enroth said with relief after the game.
It was the second time in a row where “Prince” Enroth out-dueled “King” Henrik Lundqvist of the New York Rangers. The last meeting where both Swedish netminders got the start resulted in Enroth pitching a 1-0 shutout.
“That’s my big idol,” Enroth said in reference to his countryman Lundqvist. “That’s something special to me to beat him here, [it’s] something I’ll remember forever.”
It was uncertain if he would claim that elusive victory for a good portion of the game. After a scoreless first period, it was the Rangers who made the initial climb onto the scoreboard at 4:17 in the second during a short-handed opportunity. Derek Stepan managed to move in point-blank on Enroth and lift the puck overhead following a shot from Ryan Callahan.
The Sabres responded just over a minute later. While parked at the side of the New York net during a scramble, Marcus Foligno nabbed the puck and threw it between his legs past Lundqvist for his second goal on the season.
Buffalo added to their lead at 12:40 of the second period on a breakaway by Thomas Vanek which saw the Sabres’ leading scorer beat Lundqvist on his right side with a laser of a wrist shot. Vanek’s 14th goal of the year included assists by both Jason Pominville and Cody Hodgson.
Foligno earned the media’s 1st star of the night with his second goal at 11:48 in the third period. Lundqvist stopped a shot by Andrej Sekera that came from beyond the circle, but he couldn’t smother the puck before Foligno batted it underneath him to put the Sabres up 3-1.
“Tonight was huge, there was a lot of physicality in this game and I think it was a full sixty minutes,” said Foligno following the contest.
Undisciplined play was Buffalo’s downfall during their last meeting with New York, but it was the Rangers who constantly marched to the penalty box this evening. New York took a total of five penalties to Buffalo’s one on the night, four of which occurred during the second period alone.
The Sabres will be off for four days now until their next contest. They host the Ottawa Senators this Saturday, March 16th for a 3 P.M. faceoff inside First Niagara Center.