Game Analysis: Hurricanes At Sabres

Dan Ellis stopped 40 shots in his first game with the Hurricanes, earning the 3-1 win over Buffalo. - Rick Stewart

The Carolina Hurricanes completed a home-and-home sweep of the Buffalo Sabres, winning 3-1 at First Niagara Center to move to .500 on the season.

Alexander Semin scored his first goal as a Hurricane, Jay Harrison notched the game-winner, and Dan Ellis made 40 saves to lead Carolina to a 3-1 win over the Sabres Friday. Here's a closer look at Carolina's win.

Three Observations

1. Semin's first goal as a Cane was beauty. The Russian winger has been impressive through four games with the Hurricanes, and his goal was an example of exactly what the team was looking for when they took a chance on him. It's too early to shower Semin with any accolades, but it's not hyperbole to say Carolina has never had a sniper quite like him. Not even Jeff O'Neill, who potted 41 goals in the red and black once upon a time, possessed the explosive shooting prowess of No. 28.

2. If one thing was clear after back-to-back games against the Sabres, it's that Buffalo is a one-line team — perhaps even a four-player team when you count Ryan Miller — that is struggling to create anything outside of what Cody Hodgson, Jason Pominville and Thomas Vanek accomplish. The defense was pedestrian and Buffalo's bottom three lines generated little to nothing both nights. The top line is dangerous and spectacular right now, but they can't do it alone night in and night out.

3. The Tim Gleason-Steve Ott back story is well-known, though not often publicized. Let's just say that both players could make their on-ice meetings more personal. Instead, their first head-to-head fight came naturally when Ott elbowed Justin Faulk — who later left the game with an upper body injury that may or may not be related to the hit — and Gleason responded by dropping the gloves and rag-dolling his old junior teammate before the scrap was broken up. Gleason negated the power play coming to Carolina on Ott's elbow by taking an instigating minor and also earned a 10-minute misconduct, but the message was sent that Ott's antics — or Patrick Kaleta's, for that matter — would not go without retribution.

Number To Know

3 — Straight games with a goal for Jeff Skinner, the first time in his career he has found the back of the net in three consecutive games. Skinner sealed the game with an empty-net goal that saw him out-muscle and outwork Tyler Myers (who holds a nine-inch and nearly 30-pound advange over Skinner) for his fourth goal of the season — and third on the backhand. Perhaps more importantly, Skinner has (mostly) kept his emotions in check and seems to have a growing chemistry with linemates Jordan Staal and Zac Dalpe.

Plus

Dan Ellis — Hats off to Kirk Muller, Jim Rutherford and anyone else who had input on who would back up Cam Ward this season. Ellis outperformed Miller Friday by stopping 40 shots and allowing just one goal — a tough-to-stop power play tally by Vanek that would have beat any netminder — in earning the win in his first start with the Hurricanes.

Minus

Jordan Staal — The younger Staal was a big part of Semin's goal, and he also did a lot right during the game. But taking three minor penalties — all which could have been avoided — led to Buffalo's lone goal and also gave the Sabres a chance to seize control. Luckily, Ellis and the penalty killers were up to the task and picked up Staal.

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