Ennis, Myers propel Buffalo past Montreal in OT win

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.

Report: Blue Jackets RFA Anderson in contact with Hockey Canada about 2018 Olympics

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The preseason is well underway and Josh Anderson is still without a contract.

Anderson, who scored 17 goals and 29 points last season for the Columbus Blue Jackets, is one of two remaining restricted free agents without a new deal. The other is Andreas Athanasiou of the Detroit Red Wings.

While there were reports this summer about Athanasiou potentially going to the KHL for this season, John Shannon of Sportsnet reported on Thursday that Anderson’s representatives have reached out to Hockey Canada’s staff about the 2018 Olympics. 

Anderson’s entry-level contract, with an AAV of just over $894,000, expired at the end of last season.

Meanwhile, here is the latest on this ongoing contract situation.

Making an impression: Sergachev has ‘NHL written all over him’

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Mikhail Sergachev has, over the summer, stated his belief he can play in the NHL this season.

He had a small taste of NHL action last season, appearing in four games for Montreal — the team that selected him ninth overall in 2016 — before getting sent back to junior and then being traded in June to Tampa Bay, as part of a blockbuster involving Jonathan Drouin to the Habs.

Well, Sergachev made a statement Wednesday in his preseason debut for the Lightning.

He scored once. He also played more than 22 minutes, which led all Lightning players on the night. That included time on the power play and penalty kill. If he was looking to make a favorable impression, to show that he belongs at the NHL level when the regular season begins, this seems to be another step in that direction.

“You watch this kid skate, shoot, stickhandle, he’s got NHL written all over him,” Tampa Bay’s associate coach Rick Bowness told the Tampa Bay Times. “Now we’ve got to give him experience. How much can he handle?”

There is competition on the blue line, with eight defensemen under contract in Tampa Bay for this season. That includes Sergachev, who is still only 19 years old. After getting sent back to junior last season, he recorded 43 points in 50 games with Windsor and then won the Memorial Cup that spring. That said, he’s made it a point of saying going back to junior “is not an option” for him.

Related:

Looking to make the leap: Mikhail Sergachev

Report: Lupul will have ‘independent medical exam’

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Joffrey Lupul issued a statement Wednesday, saying he wouldn’t seek a second medical opinion after the Maple Leafs announced he didn’t pass his training camp physical.

A day later, reports have surfaced that the 33-year-old forward will, in fact, undergo another, independent medical test.

That is according to James Mirtle of The Athletic:

Earlier this week, Lupul made accusations against the Maple Leafs on Instagram.

“I’m ready … just awaiting the call,” Lupul wrote in the comments section of the Instagram post, per a screen grab. “haha failed physical? They cheat. Everyone lets them.”

Lupul, who didn’t pass his physical for a second year in a row, issued an apology yesterday. But those comments — which have since been deleted — seem to have grabbed the attention of the league.

Darren Dreger of TSN added to that, saying it’s the NHL pursuing a second medical opinion on this matter.

“The National Hockey League has that right to pursue the second opinion. That’s exactly what they’re engaging in right now,” Dreger reported Thursday.

“The reasoning behind it is because of the comment that Lupul made on social media. I’ll go back a year ago. The league didn’t step in a year ago but Lupul stayed quiet at that point. So they want to make sure — ‘They’ being the National Hockey League — that the medical evaluation from the Toronto Maple Leafs is 100 per cent above the board.”

Team USA won’t include NHL draft-eligible prospects at 2018 Olympics

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BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) General manager Jim Johannson has ruled out the possibility of the U.S. men’s hockey team having NHL draft-eligible prospects competing at the Winter Olympics in February.

Johannson tells The Associated Press he doesn’t view anyone from the 18-and-younger pool of prospects capable of cracking the projected lineup of non-NHL players, many of whom are opening this season playing in Europe.

USA Hockey’s assistant executive director says he’s also targeting a number of established college players, and would not rule out keeping a spot or two open for members of the U.S. team competing at the World Junior Championships this winter.

Johansson spoke in Buffalo, New York, on Thursday, where he is attending USA Hockey’s sixth annual All-American Prospects game. The game features the top 42 U.S.-born players eligible to be selected in the NHL draft in June.