The Buffalo Sabres got the lead for a change, and held onto it thanks to a stellar performance in goal by Jhonas Enroth.
Steve Ott scored the go-ahead goal, Enroth made 44 saves and the Sabres beat the Florida Panthers 3-1 Friday night to win for just the second time in 12 games and break a three-game losing streak.
Rasmus Ristolainen and Cody Hodgson also scored for Buffalo.
Coming into the game, the Sabres (2-9-1) had led for only 9 minutes, 35 seconds this season, in their game against Tampa Bay on Oct. 8. Their other win was in a shootout against the New York Islanders on Oct. 15.
Enroth withstood a steady barrage from the Panthers, who took a season-high 45 shots. He only stumbled once when Jesse Winchester batted the puck out of the air in front and into the net for Florida’s goal.
”I think I played a pretty perfect game. Well, it was a perfect game, that goal they scored is one out of a hundred I think, so it was a good game for me,” Enroth said. ”I don’t think they can do that play over again.”
The Sabres went ahead 2-1 at 12:42 in the third on Ott’s goal. Christian Ehrhoff took a shot from the point and Ott was able to tip it past Jacob Markstrom.
Hodgson scored an empty-net goal with 47 seconds left.
”That was a huge goal for us to score in the third,” Enroth said. ”Usually we give up the goal with a couple minutes left. . Hopefully we can start building on that. This is a special feeling, winning the game instead of losing when you play good.”
Markstrom stopped 18 shots in the Panthers’ fifth loss in six games.
The Sabres tied it 1-all on Ristolainen’s goal at 13:32 of the second period. The 18-year-old rookie got his first NHL goal on a slap shot from the right circle that got past Markstrom.
”We were able to get a couple point shots through there, that was big, and on both goals we had some good net presence,” Sabres coach Ron Rolston said. ”We were fortunate to get those two and the guys turned in a real good third.”
Besides Ristolainen, the Sabres played three other players that are teenagers: Mikhail Grigorenko (19) Zemgus Girgensons (19) and Nikita Zadorov (18).
”They’ve done a good job. I like where are young guys are right now and where they’re going and where we’re heading,” Rolston said.
The Panthers took a 1-0 lead on Winchester’s goal in the first period. Sean Bergenheim passed from the left circle across to Winchester, who was able to tip in the puck high into the net at 13:58 for his second goal of the season. It was Bergenheim’s first NHL point since April 26, 2012, in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals against New Jersey.
”It was a pretty simple play. I just drove the net and hit it out of the air,” Winchester said. ”It wasn’t pretty, but it was great to see Bergy get in on it, especially so early on in the game.”
Bergenheim played two games in Finland during the lockout last year, but has spent 18 months recovering from multiple surgeries on his abdomen, groin and hip.
The Panthers outshot the Sabres 18-4 in the first period, and led in shots 34-14 at the end of the second.
”There was a lot of hard work put into the game and there’s no reward at all. There’s no points,” Panthers coach Kevin Dineen said. ”At the end of the day, we’re all about the two points. On that one, it’s not a good night.”
NOTES: Buffalo C Cody McCormick, sidelined with a leg injury since Oct. 19, returned to the ice on Friday. . D Mike Weber sustained an upper body injury. . Florida’s 45 shots is a season high and the most since 39 in the season opener at Dallas on Oct. 3. … Florida G Tim Thomas is on injured reserve after a sustaining a lower body injury on Oct. 22 against Chicago. He will be eligible to be activated on Nov. 1.