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Ennis runs afoul, Sabres fall in overtime

Tyler Ennis might want to take the stick he used Tuesday night and burn it. It caused him and the Buffalo Sabres nothing but trouble.

Ennis' stick got in the way of a sure-fire go-ahead goal late in regulation, then it flipped up and caught Colorado's Ryan Wilson in the face during overtime. Ennis could just sit in the penalty box and watch as the Avalanche scored on the man-advantage to deal the Sabres a 4-3 setback.

"It's just unlucky," Ennis said.

Unlucky is one word. Downright bizarre is another term.

The Sabres appeared to snap the 3-3 tie with 5:50 to go when Luke Adam fired into an open net on the power play. The puck, however, struck the stick of Ennis inside the cage and failed to completely cross the goal line. It bounced back out after being tantalizingly close to being in, leaving the Sabres stunned.

"I don't know how we have the whole net and it just somehow hits my stick that's sitting there," said Ennis, who was bumped near the crease by defensemen Ryan O'Byrne and Matt Hunwick. "For whatever reason it hit my stick and doesn't go in. That's just disappointing for that to happen. I don't know what the chances are of that."

Said Adam: "Someone didn't want that to go in. I saw the puck squirt out and I had the whole net there. The one spot that I shot it, it just happens to hit Enzo's stick. It's a tough play, but that's got to be a goal."

It was a fraction of an inch from being one.

"That might be one of the most bizarre breaks you can get," Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said.

The Avalanche treated its Pepsi Center crowd of 12,548 to a power-play winner with just 42.9 seconds left in overtime. Wilson drew Tim Connolly and Tyler Myers near him at center ice, then passed to Tomas Fleischmann to set up a two-on-one. David Jones buried the cross-ice pass to drop the Sabres to 2-0-1 in their past three games.

The Sabres had their own chances to make a difference on the power play, including once in overtime. They went just 1 for 8, however, and also allowed their NHL-worst eighth short-handed goal.

"The power play needs to be better," Adam said. "It was there for us. All night, the game was there for us. It would've been nice to capitalize on our opportunity."

The Sabres fired 40 shots at backup goaltender Peter Budaj, called upon to continue a seasonlong trend of opponents using their second-stringers against the Sabres. They have faced backups in 18 of their 39 games and are 12-3-3 against the No. 2 netminders. Buffalo also got a break when Peter Stastny, tied for the Avs' lead with 15 goals, was scratched with flu-like symptoms. The Sabres failed to take advantage.

The Avs took a 2-1 lead into the first intermission, with all the goals coming in a span of 1:47. The teams engaged in another rapid-fire goal surge early in the third period, with three goals coming in just 1:34 and the spurt ending with the game tied.

The Sabres tied the game with 15:32 remaining on a goal by Jochen Hecht. They took a 3-2 lead just 63 seconds later, as Steve Montador's poor-angle shot from the right boards caught Budaj napping and slipped through to start a Sabres celebration.

It was short-lived. The Avs called a timeout and quickly stormed the Buffalo net. Fleischmann's shot failed to get through a pile of bodies in front, but Matt Duchene was able to dump the puck home from the side of the net with 13:58 to go.

"You've got to give them credit," Ruff said. "They had four guys at the net, and they battled on the loose puck."

Colorado opened the scoring with 5:44 left in the first. Colorado's TJ Galiardi recovered a loose puck and flipped it high over Buffalo blue-liner Andrej Sekera, setting up Daniel Winnik for a breakaway. The forward beat Ryan Miller.

The Sabres quickly tied the score on the power play, which scored for just the eighth time in 19 road games. Connolly fed Drew Stafford along the goal line, and the winger sent a pass to the front for a Thomas Vanek tap-in with 5:11 remaining.

Vanek has scored in two straight outings following an eight-game drought.

The Sabres' power play, though, gave the Avs the lead back by allowing its short-handed goal. Ryan O'Reilly pressured Sekera into a giveaway deep in the Buffalo zone, and Winnik recovered. He fed O'Reilly across the crease with 3:57 left.

e-mail: jvogl@buffnews.com

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