Niagara Gazette


November 5, 2011

Fast start buoys Sabres to rare home win


Credit was due all around following the Sabres’ much-needed 2-1 home triumph over the Calgary Flames on Friday, just their second win at the First Niagara Center in six tries.

To wit:

• The Sabres, who imploded in the opening minutes of their last outing, roared out the gate, pumping 18 of their 44 shots on Flames goalie Henrik Karlsson during a wild first period.

• Drew Stafford opened the scoring 7:59 into the contest, his first tally in seven games. The winger kept dazzling throughout, performing like the 31-goal scorer from last season.

• In a scheduled start for Ryan Miller, backup goalie Jhonas Enroth impressed again, outdueling the seldom-used Karlsson, his friend from back home in Sweden.

• The penalty killing, quietly the NHL’s No. 1 unit, stymied the Flames’ 1:09 two-man advantage early in the second period, a huge momentum swing before the capacity crowd of 18,690 fans.

Forget about all that for a moment, though. What was the best part of Friday?

“It’s great we finally got a win here,” said Enroth, who stopped 29 shots, improving to 3-0 this season. “Now everybody can stop talking about that we can’t win here. It’s really nice. We’re back on track now.”

The Sabres had been awful at home, losing two straight and three of four to start the five-game homestand. They possibly hit rock-bottom on Wednesday, falling behind 3-0 by the 6:23 mark and dropping a 3-2 decision to Philadelphia. Another loss and they would’ve fallen to 6-6 overall.

Two days later, the Sabres put together arguably their most complete effort this season.

“That might be our best game this season,” Sabres winger Ville Leino said. “We were really moving the puck well.”

It all began with a terrific start.

“Last game was tough. It’s not what we wanted,” said Sabres winger Nathan Gerbe, who one-timed the winner in the right circle 1:45 into the third period. “This start was better, and it’s the kind of start we’re looking for as a team, just to play up-tempo and get pucks in.”

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