The Sabres are finally finding team chemistry, and Tyler Ennis is in the middle of it. To an outsider, the Sabres’ past two games – losses of 6-1 and 6-3 – wouldn’t look like any improvement has been made. But to someone who follows the team closely, and to those on the team, there is finally unity and chemistry.
Ennis said before Tuesday’s (November 11) game against the St. Louis Blues that he felt his line’s chemistry was strong. Lines have been shuffled all year long as Ted Nolan has tried to get something going. Ennis is currently on a line with Matt Moulson and Zemgus Girgensons.
And then in Tuesday’s game, the team’s chemistry showed up in another way. The Sabres and Blues delivered some heavy hits early in the game before a heavy hit by Ian Cole sent Ennis into the boards. Moulson and Girgensons wasted no time rushing to Ennis’ aid, with defensemen Tyler Myers and Nikita Zadorov right behind them. Zadorov went straight for Cole while Ennis fought Steen. All four went to the box for fighting, with Cole getting the extra two minutes for roughing. Ennis spoke after the game of his appreciation.
“I’m very happy and proud of my teammates,” Ennis said. “I owe them for having my back. Really appreciate that.”
The Sabres continued to fight for each other throughout the game. Just 17 seconds into the second period, Steen, Cody McCormick, Chris Stewart, and Carl Gunnarsson all went to the box for roughing. The 6-1 final score wasn’t something the Sabres liked to see, of course, but Ennis thought the chemistry was there.
“We stood with each other and played them well for most of the game,” he said. “Thought we deserved a better fate.”
Nolan too was happy with the way his team stood together.
“There were some real bright spots,” he said after the game. “When the thing happened to Ennis, we responded to it.”
Nolan understands that he has a young team to work with but liked a lot of what he saw Tuesday night.
“We had our moments. We’re still learning and we’re still growing.”
In last night’s game against the Minnesota Wild, the Sabres struck first and kept themselves in the game until late. Buffalo’s first goal came just 1:03 into the game, and it was Rasmus Ristolainen’s first goal of the season and just the third of his career. The scored stayed 1-0 until Minnesota scored two goals just seven seconds apart at 6:07 and 6:14 into the period. The Sabres tied it back up at two just 10 seconds later. Within 17 seconds, three goals were scored. Minnesota scored twice more in the first period and again in the second before the Sabres cut the Wild’s lead to 5-3 12:56 into the third period. Nino Niederreiter’s goal with just 2:28 remaining in the third gave him a hat trick and the Wild a 6-3 lead that the Sabres were unable to cut into anymore.
Still, after the game, Ennis said that he’s happy with the team chemistry, especially with his line. He has experience playing with Moulson and said that Girgensons “is like a veteran out there” with the way he plays and how hard he competes.
Last night’s game was just the second game of the year in which the Sabres scored three goals in regulation.
The chemistry is present. The goals are coming.