Jhonas Enroth will make his 14th appearance tonight. ©2014, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres grateful for snow day; Swedish Olympian Jhonas Enroth to start in goal tonight against Panthers

BUFFALO – Steve Ott noticed he didn’t have any food for a pregame meal Tuesday. The Sabres captain figured his “pasta place” was probably closed, too.

So even with a ferocious snowstorm battering the area, Ott “took a chance” and drove to a Wegmans supermarket for some spaghetti.

“It was a miserable chance, to be honest with you,” Ott said Wednesday after the Sabres prepared for tonight’s game against the Florida Panthers inside the First Niagara Center. “I had to guess on a left turn, thought I was going to be toast. But I made it through it. It was actually pretty unbelievable driving in that stuff.”

Of course, Ott and his teammates could stay home Tuesday after the NHL postponed their contest against Carolina.

“I think the league made a great call by absolutely keeping everyone safe,” said Ott, who spent the day watching movies by a fire with his wife and daughter.

Interim Sabres coach Ted Nolan added: “It was just one of those days it wasn’t worth playing a hockey game.”

Sabres center Zenon Konopka said the reality of the storm hit “pretty quick” when his mother, who was in Buffalo, called him four or five times and asked if he had turned on the local television stations.

“I was like, ‘OK, mom, I got it. I know not to drive on the roads,’” Konopka said. “It was kind of funny. Eventually, we went out for a bit. But it was pretty funny having your mom, when you’re in your 30s, calling you four times.”

With a loaded schedule, an extra day off “certainly ain’t going to hurt,” Nolan said.

Backup goalie Jhonas Enroth was scheduled to start Tuesday, so he’ll go tonight, Nolan said.

“It’ll be just like ‘Groundhog Day,’” he said. “We’ll just do it all over again (this) morning. So he’ll have his turn.”

Enroth might get another turn during the next month’s Sochi Games. The 25-year-old was one of three netminders named to Sweden’s Olympic squad Tuesday. Sabres defenseman Henrik Tallinder also earned a spot.

“It’s something you’ve been thinking about pretty much every day the whole year,” Enroth said. “It’s motivation and it’s going to be a great experience.”

He added: “Very excited. Very honored. I’m super excited to go to the Olympic Games.”

Players tapped their sticks and cheered as Nolan mentioned the Sabres’ Olympians before practice started.

How did Enroth find out he had made his first Olympic team?

“They emailed me,” he said. “So I just woke up to a nice little email. It was very exciting.”

Enroth acknowledged last month his poor record – he’s 1-8-3 in 13 appearances, his lone win coming Oct. 25 in Florida – might’ve been hurting his chances.

Still, he’s sporting a 2.60 goals-against average and .910 save percentage.

“I think pretty much the whole season I’ve been playing fine except for maybe one game in Anaheim,” Enroth said.

Enroth might’ve secured his spot in May, when he backstopped Sweden to a gold medal at the world championship. Sweden’s Olympic coach Par Marts, coached Enroth in the spring and in junior hockey.

“Obviously, the coach trusts me still,” Enroth said. “I’ve had that coach for a couple of years so we know each other pretty well. Winning the gold there last year definitely helped me.”

Now, imagine if Enroth plays a game against teammate Ryan Miller, one of Team USA’s goalies.

“It’d be cool, definitely unique,” Miller said. “It’s not something a whole lot of teams, many teams I’ve seen, have a chance to do.”

Nolan added: “It’s pretty cool, and two powerful nations.”

Miller said he’s “really proud” of Enroth.

“I think he’s been playing good hockey here,” Miller said. “It’s been a tough situation for him as well. He’s had some really nice outings. He just hasn’t had the good fortune of getting too many wins to show for it. But he’s been solid every time. I think he’ll be great for his team.”

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