Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 3/7/14
With the NHL trade deadline over, the Buffalo Sabres were finally able to embark on some distraction-free hockey here Thursday night. Buffalo’s 3-1 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning at Tampa Bay Times Forum was No. 62 on the 82-game NHL schedule, and the Sabres say they’re turning the final 21 games into a mini-postseason. It was a terrific game for goaltender Jhonas Enroth, who came within 2½ minutes of his first shutout of the season and was the unquestioned first star as Buffalo was outshot, 44-21. The Sabres are obviously not getting a real postseason, but coach Ted Nolan expects players like Enroth to push hard and leave good impressions with the organization, notably new General Manager Tim Murray. “A lot of guys’ contracts are up, there are jobs to be won,” Nolan said. “There’s no such thing as there’s nothing to play for. There’s a lot to play for. They’re playing for livelihoods, so we’ve got to unite, find some new leaders on this team.” “After the changes of the last week, it’s important for us to really focus on competing,” said defenseman Tyler Myers, who scored in the first period and assisted on Marcus Foligno’s goal in the second. “That’s something we’ve done a good job with.” The Sabres suffered two key injuries, however, when center Zemgus Girgensons left with a lower body injury after one shift in the second period and burly winger Chris Stewart left in the third after Tampa goalie Anders Lindback crushed him chasing a runaway puck in the Tamapa zone. Nolan said both players are very doubtful for tonight’s game against the Florida Panthers. Enroth has won three of four starts since returning from the Olympics and posted a .931 save percentage in that span. He stopped a combined nine shots Thursday from Tampa Bay star Steven Stamkos, back from a 45-game absence after a broken leg, and newly acquired Ryan Callahan. “I do believe in being in a zone, but I also believe in good habits,” Enroth said. “I’m just trying to create good habits all year. I guess it’s starting to pay off a little bit now.”
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