BUFFALO – The dressing room door swung open and sitting in the first stall, his pads and much of his equipment still attached to his sweat-drenched body, was Sabres goalie Jhonas Enroth, the hard-luck loser again, staring straight ahead.
Finally, it appeared the Sabres might win a game for the backup, who earned his only victory this season Oct. 25.
The Sabres took an early 2-1 third-period lead against the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday. They fell behind 3-2 but tied 54 seconds later before the 18,667 fans.
Then, with 15 seconds left, Vincent Lecavlier scored, sending Enroth to his ninth straight defeat (0-7-2).
Where’s Enroth’s frustration level right now?
“Obviously, 10 out of 10,” he said following the 4-3 loss inside the First Niagara Center, the Sabres’ first regulation home setback since Dec. 5.
Teammates feel for Enroth, who’s 1-9-4 this season despite a strong 2.57 goals-against average and .913 save percentage.
“Obviously, he’s had a tough go,” Sabres winger Matt D’Agostini said. “He’s been our best player when he’s played. It just hasn’t gotten the results. We haven’t gotten them the goals. Tonight we got a couple goals but we just left him hanging there at the end.”
Sabres center Tyler Ennis, who tied the game at 3 with 3:13 left, added: “It’s about time we won one for him.”
Enroth made 29 saves, including a dazzling first-period stop on sniper Claude Giroux that will surely be replayed on highlight reels for years. After losing his stick, Enroth dove across the crease and got his blocker on Giroux’s low shot.
“I thought I could make it,” Enroth said. “I just never gave up on the play. I was a little bit lucky there. Actually, it hit on the ice and it didn’t go upstairs.”
Someone will go upstairs tonight in Toronto against the Maple Leafs. Interim coach Ted Nolan promised a change following the Sabres’ late collapse.
“We didn’t play well enough to win and we have to learn to play a certain way,” Nolan said.
The game was a departure from the low-scoring, grind-it-out affairs the Sabres have played all season. The teams combined for five goals in the final 13:33.
“Games like this happens sometimes,” said Enroth, who’s received only 20 goals in his 14 starts.
Penalties killed the Sabres, both their own and the Flyers’. The power play went zero of four, generating little. Meanwhile, the Flyers scored twice on Zenon Konopka infractions.
“The timing of the penalties,” Nolan said. “The so-called fourth line is supposed to be reliable and get you some quality minutes and wear the opposition down. You don’t take foolish penalties when the score’s tied 2-2 and give away a goal.”
The Sabres’ Cody Hodgson opened the scoring at 6:59. With Konopka off for holding, Jakub Voracek tied it 1:40 into the second.
D’Agostini’s second goal in four games – he had zero in his first 15 with the Sabres – put the Sabres up 6:27 into the third period.
Brayden Schenn tied it at 13:28 before Scott Hartnell scored at 15:53 with Konopka off for hooking.
Lecavlier’s one-timer from the left circle following a mad scramble in front won it.
Following Thursday’s 2-1 shootout loss to Florida, Enroth said, “It’s tough to win with this team.”
No one argued with his stinging indictment. The Sabres lived up to Enroth’s words.
“The only thing I can do is just do my job and try to save the next puck all the time,” Enroth said.
The loss ended the Sabres’ eight-game home point streak (6-0-2).