The Sabres entered the week on a seven-game power-play drought. They've scored in each of the last two games, with Tyler Ennis and Rasmus Ristolainen getting the goals and the credit.
Ennis made his debut on the point during Monday's 4-3 shootout loss to Washington, and he worked a give-and-go with Ristolainen to score. Ristolainen found the net from the blue line during Tuesday's 2-1 shootout win in Boston.
"Special teams is huge in this league," Buffalo captain Brian Gionta said Friday in First Niagara Center. "If you’re not getting timely kills or getting timely goals on the power play, you’re not going to win many games. It’s the biggest difference in games."
Coach Ted Nolan says Ennis' playmaking from the point has made the team way better heading into Friday's visit by New Jersey.
"It’s changed it drastically," Nolan said. "Tyler’s a dynamic player in this league. When he’s on top of his game, he’s pretty effective. Back there, we have a legitimate quarterback.
"Our power play, sometimes we get stuck on, ‘We have to set it up on this side. We have to have the right shots, left shots, slide it over for the one-timer.’ It didn’t seem to be working for us, so Bryan Trottier talked to the team about darting in, darting out, switching positions, moving around, creating some havoc for the penalty killers. It seems to be working right now. They’re moving the puck well."
Ennis has three goals and five points in the last six games, bringing his team-high totals to 18 and 38.
"Somebody asked me who’s the most consistent player on this team and who’s the most valuable player on the team this year. Tyler Ennis, by far," Nolan said. "His vision, his dynamic, his intuition with the puck, he darts in and out, he’s competitive. Scoring 18 goals now without – no knock against the centermen he had – but you give him a legitimate, experienced center iceman to feed him some pucks, the sky is the limit for this kid. You look at 18, you could look at 38, 40."
Nolan also had glowing words for Ristolainen.
"For every time he took a step back, he took two steps forward," the coach said. "This is another situation where he’s playing OK, then all of a sudden the last couple he’s been lifting his game up even to a better level.
"His vision is certainly up there with the elite guys in this league. Once maturity catches up, he should be a dandy."
Andrej Meszaros will join Ristolainen on the Sabres' blue line Friday after missing two games with an injury. Chad Ruhwedel, who was up on an emergency recall, will likely report to Rochester on Friday afternoon.
Anders Lindback will make his eighth straight appearance in the Sabres' net.