The Carolina Hurricanes put on one of their most dominating performances of the season in Buffalo on Sunday night and beat the Sabres, 3-0. The score could have been much worse than that as the visitors at one time had 16 scoring chances to Buffalo's 4. They hit the post a few times and forced the Sabres' goalies to make several tough saves.
Mid-way through the first period during a powerplay, Eric Staal made a nice play jumping to keep the puck in the zone then fired it in the net past Ryan Miller. Staal was not to be denied in this game as he made one great play after another. Later in the period, he danced through three Sabres and made his way to the net. Miller made a nice play to stop his shot, but Chad LaRose was right there to tuck in the rebound.
It was LaRose's 13th goal of the season, a career high.
The Canes had 18 shots in the first period and another 16 in the second, as it seemed like they had a much larger working margin than 2-0. Patrick Lalime replaced Miller in the second period, and stoned the Canes at every opportunity until late in the third period when he thought that he had the puck frozen. Sergei Samsonov saw just enough of it to knock it in the net, much to the chagrin of the angry goalie.
The Sabres tried to make a come back in that final period and started to generate some nice opportunities, but Cam Ward was on top of his game and made several top-notch saves. One in particular was a highlight reel save on Tim Connolly as he flashed his glove hand to snag a puck just before it went into the high corner of the net.
It was the fourth shut out of the year for the Hurricanes goalie.
Fans are probably wondering where that kind of effort was for the last two games at the RBC, but the Hurricanes will most likely have another chance to please a capacity crowd on Tuesday night when the franchise will retire Glen Wesley's number before they take on the Eastern Conference leading Boston Bruins.
Ward ended up making 36 saves for the night as Buffalo managed to get 15 shots on net in the third period.
The Canes finished with 47 shots on goal led by Staal with 7 and Matt Cullen with 6.
Carolina is an amazing 8-2 on the second game of back-to-back situations.
When Justin Williams got hurt, Paul Maurice ran with just three lines as Brandon Sutter and Ryan Bayda finished the contest with less than 3 minutes of playing time each. Obviously, the coach recognized the importance of the game and ran with his best players all night, and they responded.
Staal even led the team in face off percentage with 61% as he won 11 of 18 draws. Brind'Amour had an off night with 44%.
It was originally reported that Justin Williams had a facial injury as he got hit with an Anton Babchuk shot, but CH.com, (AP article), is reporting that it's an arm injury. We will have more about that later.
Tim Gleason did not play because of an injury sustained against the Blue Jackets. Frank Kaberle took his place and had one of his best games of the season.
The win pulls the 9th place Canes within three points of Buffalo and Florida. The Panthers lost to the Caps earlier in the evening.