It was a scoring hot streak by Buffalo Sabres standards.
Tyler Ennis had two goals and three points in the last two games and while he was blanked in the Sabres 2-1 shootout win over Ottawa at First Niagara Center Tuesday night, he was all over the ice creating all kinds of offense.
“I don’t know what he’s been eating lately but he’s had a lot of jump in his legs,” Sabres interim coach Ted Nolan said. “He’s skating pretty well and making some good plays. He’s been playing well.”
Ennis has been playing with Zemgus Girgensons for awhile now, but they welcomed Matt Moulson to the line Tuesday.
Moulson had five shots on goal, Ennis three and Girgensons scored on his only shot in the second period.
“I think tonight was more of a complete game,” Ennis said. “We played a good 65 minutes tonight and when you work hard and play with that much effort, you get wins.
“We’ve been playing well the last two weeks. … I think that chemistry is coming. We’ve got to keep putting the puck in the net.”
His goal against the New York Rangers ended a four-game pointless streak for Ennis and helped to create confidence which was evident in his game Tuesday night.
“I’m just trying to work hard and get back to my old self … holding the puck a little more. Getting back to having the puck on my stick and making plays from there,” Ennis said.
“I think every time you score you get that little confidence back a little bit at a time. When you get confidence you get a little more poise and you kinda settle in a little bit instead of rushing things and you get back to making plays.”
The bottom line comes down to goals. Ville Leino has none and the Buffalo Sabres need the forward to produce.
So it’s not a huge mystery why Leino sat in the press box as a healthy scratch Tuesday night against Ottawa. But for the 30-year old Leino with six years in the NHL, the expectations of Nolan and his role on the team seems to be a bit foggy.
In the five games prior to Saturday’s 3-2 loss in Montreal, Leino had played at least 18 minutes. Saturday, he played just 13:18 and on Monday was dropped to the fourth line in practice as Nolan reshuffled the lineups.
“I don’t know what to tell you … back and forth,” Leino said. “I’m not exactly sure what he wants out of me.
“The last game wasn’t my best. It was all right. The five games before I thought I was making a lot of plays. Puck possession. Our line was never in our end, a lot of scoring chances. I’m sure we should have capitalized on some of those scoring chances, myself and everyone else. At least there was a lot of zone time, lot of scoring chances.”
But Nolan is looking for work ethic and consistency, two things he didn’t see from Leino in Saturday’s loss at Montreal which looked like a step back.
“It really was but not only that game but the way he practiced yesterday,” Nolan said. “He didn’t practice all that well. I think we’re a product of our environment. If we don’t practice hard how are we going to play hard? It’s one of those things that we have to set a certain standard here that you have to be accountable for. Not just Ville but everybody.”
Leino has five assists in 18 games this season and is a minus-6. In 97 games for the Sabres over the last three years he has 10 goals. He scored 30 goals in 149 games over four seasons for Detroit and Philadelphia before coming to the Sabres.
“I’ve been playing the game the way I’ve always been playing it,” Leino said. “It just hasn’t gone it. There’s a lot of good chances, a lot of scoring chances. I don’t know. Sometimes it doesn’t go your way.”
He is in the third year of his six-year $27 million contract which he signed in 2011.
If there’s one thing Cory Conacher knows how to do it’s stay positive and work hard. And that’s what the Ottawa forward keeps doing even as he’s been snakebitten on the offensive end this season.
The all-time leading scorer in the Division I era for Canisius hockey returned to Buffalo with two goals and three assists in 30 games for the Senators.
“It’s frustrating but at the same time, you can’t be frustrated,” Conacher said after taking an optional team skate Tuesday morning.
“I’ve got to be … playing good position in the D-zone. Making as much offensive presence as I can and being in front of the net and be a pest in front of the net and continue to draw penalties and help my team out that way. The bounces will come. You’ve got to patient. Every day’s a new day. It’d be kinda nice to start out in Buffalo with a couples points … but whether I get a point or not as long as we win the game at the end of the day.”
He started a new point streak in the first period, setting up Milan Michalek for the game’s first goal.
Conacher got to visit his younger brother, Shane, a freshman at Canisius and said about 20 friends and family would be at the game.
The American Hockey League has announced a big television package for Friday night’s “Frozen Frontier” outdoor game between the Rochester Amerks and Lake Erie Monsters at Frontier Field. The game will air live on Time Warner Cable SportsChannel in Western New York and on SportsTime Ohio in the Cleveland area. STO is available nationally on DirecTV, Dish and AT&T U-Verse. The game will air live in Canada on all four regions of Sportsnet and will be replayed in the United States on NHL Network at noon on Saturday.
Along with Leino, Mike Weber was a healthy scratch for the Sabres. Eric Gryba and Mike Hoffman were Ottawa scratches.