While having already been mathematically eliminated from the playoffs over the weekend, the Buffalo Sabres wanted to play spoiler and hinder the Winnipeg Jets playoff hopes on Monday, April 22.
However, the Jets kept their playoff hopes alive with a 2-1 victory over the Sabres, despite Jhonas Enroth making 37 saves for the Sabres.
The Jets outshot the Sabres 15-4 in the opening period, but Enroth stood tall in net to keep the game scoreless after one period of play.
The Jets finally got the first goal of the game with their 22nd shot on goal 7:42 into the second period. Jets’ forward Derek Meech sent a pass from the left corner to Aaron Gagnon who was standing just to the left of the Buffalo net. Gagnon then redirected the puck with a backhand shot that beat Enroth over his left shoulder to give the Jets a 1-0 lead.
Thomas Vanek tied the game for the Sabres on the power play four minutes and 15 seconds later with his team-leading 18th goal of the season. After taking a cross-ice pass from Drew Stafford, Tyler Ennis then sent a pass from the right faceoff circle to Vanek in the slot. Vanek then redirected the puck into the top of the net past Jets’ goalie Ondrej Pavalec to even the score at 1-1 with just over eight minutes remaining in the second period.
The Jets regained their one goal lead with 7:36 remaining in the third period on a shot by Antti Miettinen. Jets’ forward James Wright skated into the offensive zone and sent a pass back to the trailing Miettinen. Miettinen then ripped a slap shot from between the right circle and the blue line that Enroth caught a piece of, but not enough to keep it from trickling across the goal line behind him to give the Jets a 2-1 lead.
The Sabres were unable to get the equalizer in the final seven and a half minutes of the third period, and the Jets held on for a 2-1 victory to stay alive in the playoff race with Ondrej Pavalec making 24 saves in the game.
The Sabres now fall to 19-21-6 on this abbreviated season and sit in 11th place in the Eastern Conference standings.
Despite making a season-high 37 saves in the game, the loss drops Jhonas Enroth to 4-4-1 on the season with a .919 Save Percentage and a 2.60 Goals Against Average.
Ryan Miller, while getting the night off, is 15-17-5 on the season with a .912 Save Percentage and a 2.89 Goals Against Average.
With nothing left but pride to play for, the Sabres have two games remaining before looking towards next season. Their next game comes on Tuesday, April 23 against the Pittsburgh Penguins at 7:30 p.m.