Tyler Ennis’ season hasn’t gone as planned, but he was played a pivotal role in Buffalo’s 3-2 overtime victory versus Montreal on Monday.
After Carey Price stopped 32 of 33 shots in a 4-1 victory over Vancouver on Saturday, Montreal decided to rest him against the Buffalo Sabres. Peter Budaj held his own in relief of Price against a Sabres team that’s desperately fighting to stay in the playoff race. Buffalo outshot Montreal 14-6 in the first period, but the score was 1-0 in favor of the Canadiens after 20 minutes.
Ennis finally found the back of the net at 11:08 of the second period and then again early in the third. He has just 18 points in his injury-shortened sophomore season, but he’s bounced back lately with 11 points in his last 14 games. Drew Stafford assisted on both goals to end his four-game pointless slump.
It looked like the story would end there, but David Desharnais, who was questionable to even play Monday night due to a lower body injury, netted the game-tying goal with just five seconds remaining in regulation time. You can check out his heroics below.
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Desharnais’ efforts allowed Montreal to walk away with a point, but Buffalo still won the contest on the strength of Tyler Myers’ overtime goal. Ryan Miller made 26 saves to reach the 25-win mark for the seventh straight season.
Each team had two power-play opportunities, but neither managed to capitalize. Buffalo has been particularly effective when it comes to killing penalties lately. They haven’t allowed a power-play goal since Feb. 24.
For Buffalo, this win keeps hope alive as they try to catch up to the surging Washington Capitals, who currently hold the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference. The Sabres are now just two points behind the Capitals, but Buffalo has also played in one extra contest. Meanwhile, the Canadiens are simply playing for personal and professional pride. They are stuck in last place in the Eastern Conference and no longer have any realistic hope of playing beyond April 7.
From the NHL:
Pretty veteran crew, including three returnees from last year’s final.
Per the NHL, O’Halloran and O’Rourke will call tonight’s series opener from Consol.
PITTSBURGH — When Pete DeBoer was hired to coach the San Jose Sharks, he wasn’t totally cognizant of how much heartbreak the fan base had experienced throughout the years.
Now he knows.
“First year in the community, I didn’t realize kind of the baggage that was carried around,” DeBoer said this morning ahead of Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final. “Twenty-five-year season-ticket holders coming up to you with tears in their eyes and crying.”
The Sharks, of course, have never been this far in the playoffs. Prior to this year, they’d made it three times to the Western Conference Final, losing each time.
More painful were the first-round exits. Like in 2009 when they won the Presidents’ Trophy and got knocked out by the Ducks, and two years ago when they led the Kings 3-0 before dropping four straight.
It was only after the Sharks beat the Blues that DeBoer fully realized the “gravity of what they’ve been through” as fans in San Jose, and “how important this is to them.”
Not that he’s satisfied with getting this far.
“The business at hand now is to get off on the right foot, plant the right seeds for this series, impose our game,” he said. “Every series is the same — it’s whatever team can impose their game on the other team the quickest and for the longest. That’s our goal here tonight.”
Related: For Pete DeBoer, San Jose was the perfect landing spot
Los Angeles Kings center Anze Kopitar will spend part of his offseason trying to help Slovenia qualify for the Olympics.
RTV Slovenia has the story here.
The qualification games will be played September 1-4 in Minsk. Slovenia is in a group with Belarus, Denmark and Poland. The winner of the group will qualify for the Olympics.
The NHL reportedly has no issue with Kopitar’s participation, even though the league has yet to commit to sending its players to Pyeongchang.
Slovenia made its Olympic debut in ice hockey at the 2014 Games in Sochi.
Kopitar will also represent Team Europe at the 2016 World Cup later in September.
Related: Slovenia beats Slovakia for historic win
PITTSBURGH — Matt Nieto is healthy, and ready to go.
But it doesn’t look like he’ll go tonight.
The San Jose Sharks are unlikely to make any lineup changes for Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final in Pittsburgh — at Monday’s optional morning skate, Nieto stayed out late with the extras while the guy he’d (presumably) replace in the lineup, Dainius Zubrus, told NHL.com he was in.
Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer wouldn’t reveal any lineup decisions during his morning media availability, instead talking up both Nieto (for his speed) and Zubrus (for his “heavy” game), adding he liked the versatility the two give the club on a night-by-night basis.
Nieto suffered an upper-body injury in Game 6 of the Nashville series, and missed all of the Western Conference Final.
Prior to getting hurt, he had three points in 11 games — this after a regular season in which he scored eight goals and 17 points in 67 games.