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Enroth looks back fondly on Buffalo days

DALLAS – It had become Jhonas Enroth’s goal crease in Buffalo after Ryan Miller departed. But now Enroth is once again saddled as a backup, sitting behind Dallas Stars stalwart Kari Lehtonen after getting dealt here by the Sabres last month.

“My first reaction was a lot of mixed emotions,” Enroth said here prior to Monday night’s game when asked about the Feb. 11 deal for Anders Lindback. “If you had asked me a week before, I would have told you I didn’t want to get traded. But it was nice to feel wanted too. Dallas went out and traded for me. I guess it was mixed feelings. I would have put my money on I was going to get traded around the deadline, not that early.”

Enroth was the backup to Lehtonen in Monday’s game at American Airlines Center, won by the Stars, 4-3.

Enroth is just 1-5 in Dallas, and that win was in relief. His goals-against average is 3.35 and his save percentage is just .873. He has given up 20 goals in his five starts, and hasn’t played since a 5-4 loss March 7 at Tampa Bay.

“Kari has been playing real well lately. I kind of put myself in a little bit of a hole here,” Enroth said. “I only have myself to blame. I’m just looking forward to the next game. … I know I can play better.”

Enroth said it’s been good to be reunited with Lindy Ruff. The former Buffalo coach said he was impressed that Enroth won a world championship with Sweden and with the way he made 38 saves against Dallas in the Sabres’ 3-2 win over the Stars Feb. 7 in First Niagara Center.

“I think it’s incredibly tough in this league to step in every fourth or fifth game,” Ruff said. “When he’s settled in there playing game after game, it’s easier for him. It’s easier for any goalie. Even for Lindback now, he’s played game in and game out, he’s faced a lot of shots and it’s easier to get into the rhythm of a game.”

Enroth said he hasn’t seen too many Sabres games since he left but was aware of the great run Michal Neuvirth went on after he was traded.

“He had something to play for,” Enroth said. “Now the guys there don’t have much to lose. They’re just trying to play as hard as they can, which they should.”

Enroth said he’s still adjusting to life in Dallas and knows that he could be moving on again this summer because he’s an unrestricted free agent.

“I loved playing in Buffalo. I loved being a Sabre,” Enroth said. “When I got traded, there was a lot of new stuff around me. It was a little bit tough but that’s how it is. I’m still trying to deal with it.”

What about a return to Buffalo? General Manager Tim Murray seems to like big goaltenders but Enroth’s first word in response to the question was “definitely.” Then he stopped himself and took the more politically correct route.

“I’m a Dallas Stars player right now and focused on doing well here,” he said. “But I loved living in Buffalo and being a Sabre. I had a great time there.”

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Among other Sabres dealt in the last few weeks:

• Chris Stewart (Minnesota) entered Monday’s game in Toronto with three goals, three assists and a plus-4 rating in 10 games.

• Torrey Mitchell has no points and a minus-2 rating in six games for Montreal. He has not played since suffering an arm injury March 14 on Long Island. Brian Flynn has no points and a minus-2 rating in five games for the Habs. He has also been dealing with an upper-body injury and has been a healthy scratch.

• Entering Monday’s game in Edmonton, Drew Stafford has six goals, seven assists and a plus-3 in 16 games. Tyler Myers has two goals, eight assists and is plus-6 in 15 games.

• Neuvirth is 1-2-1 in four starts for the New York Islanders. He has a 2.91 goals-against average but a save percentage of just .882, well off the .918 mark he put up for the Sabres. Neuvirth is the only player who could see Buffalo this year, as the Sabres and Islanders meet April 4 in Buffalo’s final visit to Nassau Coliseum.

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Ruff on the Sabres-Winnipeg deal that brought Evander Kane and Zach Bogosian to Buffalo: “They looked at Kane being one of those guys who may be an elite goal scorer, which I think he can be from the times we saw him. And they wanted to get tougher to play against. Bogosian is a hard, tough player to play against. Winnipeg liked what they got and it’s going to be wait and see on the other hand to see if Kane can fulfill what they want him to be.”

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If the Sabres had any extra defensemen on hand, Nikita Zadorov might have been a healthy scratch Monday. They don’t, so Zadorov played even though Nolan was still agitated by Zadorov’s faux pas on Nashville’s second goal Saturday.

Zadorov broke his stick in the Predators’ zone, flung it away in disgust and then loped back to the bench – while Nashville broke away on a three-on-one break. It turned into a goal by Craig Smith, the second in Buffalo’s 3-0 defeat.

“It’s just crazy. I didn’t break a stick for two months and that moment it goes,” Zadorov said here Monday. “It never happened before and I didn’t know what to do: Go and change or stay in the play. I didn’t do both. Next time you have to figure it out early.

“It’s not like you missed the puck, you got beat one on one and they score, it’s more a crazy moment.”

“He’s such a likeable individual but he’s got to get that seriousness in his game,” Nolan said. “… He keeps saying ‘yes and yes and yes.’ We’ll keep hammering that message to him and hopefully he gets it.”

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Winger Jerry D’Amigo missed the game in the wake of taking a stick to the face from Nashville’s Craig Smith in the first period Saturday. Smith got a double minor and was then fined $5,000 by the NHL for careless use of the stick.

Nolan said X-rays showed no real damage to D’Amigo’s face but he was having an MRI done to see if there are hidden issues. The Sabres called up Tim Schaller from Rochester to replace D’Amigo, and he was playing in his fourth game in four days.

email: mharrington@buffnews.com

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