While the effort was better, the Carolina Hurricanes lost their fifth game in a row last night by a score of 3-1 to the Buffalo Sabres. The last time the team lost five games in a row was during the 2002-03 season, when the Canes finished dead last in the NHL.
The Sabres jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first period, added another goal in the second, then relied upon the strong play of goalie Ryan Miller to make the lead hold up the rest of the game.
After the Canes drew a penalty, earning a powerplay at about the 7 minute mark of the opening period, Rod Brind'Amour was called for tripping which negated the advantage. Buffalo scored their first goal during the ensuing four-on-four sequence.
Brind'Amour finished with a -2 for the night and now has a league worst -29.
With the score, 3-0, the Canes got something going early in the third period when Ray Whitney finally got a puck past Miller. Carolina put 19 shots on goal during the period, but Miller stood tall the rest of the way.
The lines were mixed and matched throughout the affair, but it seemed like the Cullen/Whitney/Walker line had the most jump. Expect to see them back together again in Toronto.
The team remains in 10th place in the Eastern Conference and has dropped to third in the Southeastern Division. Next up is a back-to-back set of games in Toronto and Pittsburgh on Monday and Tuesday nights.
Scott Walker missed a wide open chance as he had Ryan Miller down and out, but hit the post as he skated by the net. Anton Babchuk also had a point-blank open shot in front of the net, which Miller barely got a glove on. Make those two shots, and it's a different game.
The Canes out-hit the Sabres 21-11.
Eric Staal played in his 300th consecutive game, the second longest streak in franchise history.
Brind'Amour's ice time is declining as he had 14:31 of TOI. He still got over three minutes of powerplay time though compared to 00:00 for Matt Cullen.
Sergei Samsonov led the team with five giveaways.
The Canes did not practice on the ice today as they rested up for their next two games. According to Canes Now, look for some new lines on Monday night in Toronto-
Jim Rutherford told Chip Alexander not to expect any miracle trades in the coming days. Apparently, the GM still likes this group of players and plans to "stay the course".
Some fans might be thinking that Rutherford sounds much like the skipper of the Titantic with this stubborn strategy. Time will tell if his patience pays off.