The Sabres took an early lead on a Jason Pominville power-play goal, and that was all Enroth needed. Enroth, playing in relief of the injured Ryan Miller, made 34 saves for his second straight win against the Hurricanes, this one a 1-0 shutout in front of 15,072 at the RBC Center.
The only goal of the night was nothing more than a fortunate bounce. Midway through the first period while the Canes killed off a Jussi Jokinen slashing penalty, Thomas Vanek centered the puck to no one in particular from behind the net, and the puck bounced off Bryan Allen and in on Canes goalie Brian Boucher, a surprise starter in place of Cam Ward. Boucher unknowingly made the save, but the puck bounced right to Pominville who fired it past Boucher at 13:04 before the goaltender even knew where the puck was.
From there, the next 46-plus minutes belonged to Enroth, who singlehandedly kept the Canes at bay despite playing what coach Paul Maurice called "the best all-around team game we've played this year." Carolina outshot Buffalo 34-20, including eight-shot advantages in the second and third period.
The line pairings, a point of discussion over the past week, were remarkably constant and evenly distributed. Among the Canes' forwards, only Eric Staal (23:20) played over 20 minutes, and the Canes' fourth line of Jiri Tlusty, Tim Brent and Zach Boychuk each tallied double-digit shifts. Defenseman Justin Faulk, recalled from Charlotte (AHL) on Thursday, played just over 22 minutes alongside Jay Harrison most of the night.
Allen, in particular, looked more comfortable alongside Tim Gleason than he had in the previous games since the Canes' shutdown pairing was broken up about a week and a half ago. His sliding block of a Luke Adam centering pass attempt late in the second period was the type of defensive play that's been noticeable by its absence during Carolina's most recent three-game losing streak.
Of greater concern now is the Canes' punchless offense, which has gone a stretch of 135:24 without a goal. Their last lighting of the red lamp came on Patrick Dwyer's penalty shot on Monday against Philadelphia, and have now been shut out in consecutive games for the first time in the second Paul Maurice administration. The last time the Canes suffered back-to-back bagels was in January of 2007. Interestingly, the Canes' franchise had not suffered a 1-0 defeat on home ice since December 21, 1984, when Kelly Hrudey of the New York Islanders made 25 saves in a 1-0 blanking of the Hartford Whalers.
Speaking of Dwyer, he took an unpenalized forearm from Sabres defenseman Tyler Myers with eight minutes left in the third period and headed to the locker room. Dwyer did not return to the game, and Maurice said that the team would have to wait until tomorrow to find out the extent of Dwyer's injury.
The Canes now continue their on-again, off-again November schedule with a practice day tomorrow, then a matchup with the surprising Toronto Maple Leafs on Sunday afternoon at the RBC Center.