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Lindy Ruff has long been a proponent of keeping hockey secrets, especially when it comes to which goaltender he’ll use. He broke out of character with a big hint Wednesday.

Backup Jhonas Enroth is expected to make his first start of the season tonight, spelling Ryan Miller when the Buffalo Sabres visit Carolina.

Miller started the first two games and would return to the crease Friday when the Sabres host the Hurricanes.

After initially being coy about who would start today, Ruff dropped the subtleties about Enroth.

“It’s important to get him going,” Ruff said. “We’ve got five games in really less than eight days. You look at it that way, we need to get him in there. At the same time, we need to keep Ryan fresh.

“The longer you wait I think it’s tough on him. The sooner we get it in,” said Ruff, who paused while glancing and grinning at the questioner, “the better.”

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Sabres Hall of Fame broadcaster Rick Jeanneret will miss his third straight game with an illness. Kevin Sylvester will fill in for the play-by-play man for the second consecutive outing.

Jeanneret said via text message that he’s “getting there,” but he wasn’t ready to make the road trip.

The Sabres announced that Sunday’s opener against Philadelphia drew the second-highest rating in Buffalo for a regular-season game. The NBC broadcast posted a 20.1 rating and 34 share, second only to the 2008 Winter Classic.

The 20.1 rating means that 20.1 percent of television-equipped households tuned into the game. The share means 34 percent of households watching TV had the game on, which equates to about 127,000 homes.

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The Sabres hope their second road game goes better than their first when it comes to faceoffs. Toronto dominated Buffalo in the dot with a 45-19 edge.

“It’s obvious to look at the stats and say there’s something to improve on,” said center Tyler Ennis, who won just 2-of-14 draws against the Maple Leafs. “Last game, our first time on the road being the first to get in the circle, there’s adjustments. We grinded out a good win. It’s something we have to keep working on.”

The Sabres’ most crucial loss came with under two minutes to play. Cody Hodgson, who lost 17-of-23 faceoffs, was beaten in his own zone and the Leafs scored to pull within 2-1.

Buffalo had a 36-31 edge against Philadelphia in its home opener.

“If you’re not winning them, you’ve got to be able to defense them,” Ruff said. “Faceoffs, they’ve cost us a lot of possession. The late goal, the bounce off the plexiglass is kind of a tough one, but we’ve been able to defend most faceoff plays when it comes to losing them. We want to get better.

“We’re going to keep working at it. One game we were pretty good, then one game we were pretty bad. From that front we thought we’d struggle a little bit in the faceoff circle, and that’s where we’re at.”

email: jvogl@buffnews.com