- By RACHEL LENZI
PORTLAND – Jhonas Enroth barely had time to unpack his equipment bag before he had to head back on the road with the Portland Pirates.
A day after the Buffalo Sabres returned Enroth and two of his teammates to the Sabres’ AHL affiliate, Enroth made his first start of the AHL playoffs in Thursday night’s 5-3 loss to the Binghamton Senators.
It was also Enroth’s first start at the Cumberland County Civic Center in nearly two months.
Enroth had time to talk with the media before showering after the game and repacking his bags, as the Pirates planned to depart Portland by bus immediately after their Game 2 loss to the Senators.
“The last couple weeks have been pretty busy with all the playoffs and stuff like that,” said Enroth, who finished with 21 saves in Thursday’s loss.
“It’s been a really good experience, too. I hadn’t started a game in two weeks or something like that.”
There was some rust to shake off, Enroth said, but “that’s not any excuse.”
Enroth went 28-18-1 with the Pirates with a .919 save percentage, a 2.37 goals-against average and five shutouts before he was called up by Buffalo on March 4, his third recall by the Sabres.
In his last start at the Civic Center on March 1, Enroth made 24 saves in a 6-2 victory over Worcester.
In 14 regular-season games with the Sabres, Enroth was 9-2 with two overtime losses, a .907 save percentage, a 2.73 goals-against average and one shutout.
In Game 7 of Buffalo’s first-round playoff series on Tuesday, Enroth gave up a goal and made seven saves in relief of starter Ryan Miller.
Thursday morning, Miller told the Buffalo media that a concussion forced him to miss the Sabres’ final four regular-season games, which the Sabres listed as an upper-body injury.
“Just to see how important every game is up there and how they really play hard up there …” Enroth said.
“I’m just trying to bring that down here, to be a little bit more of a leader.”
Enroth stopped all 10 shots he faced in the first period Thursday, but gave up two goals on Binghamton’s first four shots of the second period — Kaspars Daugavins’ short-handed goal at 8:28 and Zack Smith’s goal at 11:16 — then gave up Bobby Butler’s goal with 3:38 left in the second period, his second goal of the series.
After Bobby Raymond’s shot from the point through traffic beat Enroth with 3:51 left in the third, the Pirates pulled Enroth for a sixth skater with one minute left.
“We played pretty good, but not good enough,” Enroth said. “Especially me. I have to play a little bit better, too.”
Pirates Coach Kevin Dineen explained his decision to start Enroth over David Leggio in Game 2.
“Jhonas has gone up, he’s played excellent hockey and we’ve ridden him at different times this year,” Dineen said. “He was the right call.”
When asked if Enroth would start Game 3 for the Pirates, Dineen was noncommital.
“We’ll see,” Dineen said.
Staff Writer Rachel Lenzi can be contacted at 791-6415 or at: