BUFFALO, N.Y. – Sabres goalie Jhonas Enroth chalked up his first shutout in nearly two seasons as having more to do with skill than good fortune.
In stopping 29 shots in a 1-0 win over the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday, Enroth brushed aside a question regarding Danny Briere’s shot that deflected off the crossbar with 1 second remaining.
“I’m going to stick with good,” Enroth said, with a wink. “I think we worked really hard. Everyone was better out there, so I think we deserved the luck.”
Buffalo not only got a break on Briere’s shot which banked wide as the final horn sounded, but also on its only goal.
Christian Ehrhoff scored 17 seconds into the third period after a faceoff to the left of the Flyers net.
Given the puck at the point, Ehrhoff’s shot sailed five feet wide of the net, caromed off the end boards and banked in off the back of Flyers goalie Steve Mason’s skate.
“Fortunate bounce for me, and it was the only goal in the game so happy with it,” Ehrhoff said. “Sometimes it just happens that way. Not really that surprised.”
The Sabres (17-19-6) ended a two-game skid to stay on the fringes of the playoff race by moving into a tie for 10th with New Jersey in the Eastern Conference.
The Flyers (17-21-3) slipped further out of contention in losing their fourth straight—a stretch in which they’ve combined for just three goals.
“Yeah, it’s the way things are going these days around here,” Briere said, of his shot from the left circle that went off the crossbar. “All the offence that we have up front, it’s been frustrating in that regard. I wish I had an easy answer.”
Briere was playing his first game after missing 10 with a concussion.
And he couldn’t provide a spark to a team that’s lost four straight in regulation for the first time since a fourth-game skid from Feb. 26-March 6, 2011.
As for its offensive struggles, Philadelphia’s failure to score two or more goals in regulation over four games is the team’s worst stretch since a four-game span from Jan. 24-30, 2003, according to STATS LLC.
The power play isn’t helping. The Flyers failed to convert on three chances and are 0 for 16 in six games.
“Nobody likes the position we’re in. It’s tough to take,” general manager Paul Holmgren said. “Scoring three goals in the last four games is, I’m sure, real tough to take for the players, too. We just have to dig in now and play hard.”
Much of the Flyers offensive struggles on Saturday had to do with Enroth, who earned his third career shutout and first since Nov. 18, 2011. All three of his shutouts have come in 1-0 wins.
Enroth was in position to stop Wayne Simmonds’ shot from the slot with 50 seconds left.
His best stop came 10 minutes earlier, when he kicked out his left pad to stop Simon Gagne driving to the net after being set up alone in front.
Enroth was briefly shaken up on the play, after teammate Mark Pysyk rolled over top the goalie while chasing Gagne from behind.
Mason finished with 20 saves in making his third appearance since being acquired in a trade with Columbus. He was particularly sharp in the second period, when he stopped the Sabres on three separate 2-on-1 rushes.
The Sabres won despite a lineup that was thinned further of veteran talent.
With defenceman Tyler Myers set to miss the rest of the season with a broken bone in his leg, Chad Ruhwedel made his NHL debut shortly after signing a two-year contract with Buffalo. Ruhwedel was an undrafted free agent, who just completed his college career at UMass Lowell.
“It was pure adrenaline,” said Ruhwedel, who logged 13 minutes on 18 shifts. “It was surreal. These guys made my job a lot easier.”
NOTES: Ruhwedel had 63 points (15 goals) in 110 career games at UMass Lowell. He replaced Tyler Myers in the lineup, after the defenceman was ruled out for the remainder of the season after he broke a bone in his leg blocking a shot in a 5-1 loss to Montreal on Thursday. … Flyers C Maxim Talbot and D Bruno Gervais were both healthy scratches. Gervais missed only his fourth game of the season. … Before the game, a ground-breaking ceremony was held for a $172 million hockey/entertainment complex Sabres owner Terry Pegula is building across the street from the team’s home.