The Carolina Hurricanes ran into a team more desperate than they were on Thursday night as the Buffalo Sabres took care of business, 3-2 over the Canes at the HSBC Arena in Buffalo, NY.
The loss put an end to the Carolina eight game point streak and was their first loss in regulation since December 26.
The Sabres really needed this game because they were eight points behind the Canes as well as 11 points outside of a playoff spot and they played like they wanted it a bit more than the visitors.
They jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first period when Thomas Vanek found Nathan Gerbe open in the slot area. The goal came just 11 seconds after Buffalo killed a lackluster Carolina powerplay.
The Hurricanes tied things up early in the second period when Eric Staal sent a puck into the middle that Tuomo Ruutu chipped in over Ryan Miller. The powerplay assist extended Staal's current point streak to seven games while Ruutu extended his to four straight.
But Buffalo would come right back to take the lead as Cody McCormick buried a shot alone in the slot area. Once again, the goal was made shortly after the Sabres killed a Carolina powerplay.
The third stanza was controlled mostly by Buffalo as they took a 3-1 lead on a powerplay goal by Drew Stafford just 3:32 into the period. Joni Pitkanen was in the box for crosschecking. The Canes had a hard time getting anything consistent going until late in the game when they pulled Cam Ward.
Jeff Skinner made it respectable with 32 seconds left when he knocked in a rebound after a scramble in front of the net. The Canes tried to score again, but were unable to get a decent chance as time ran out.
The team was due for a clunker, but it's a shame it came against Buffalo, a team that has struggled mightily at times this season. The Canes will need a better effort against Tampa Bay on Saturday night or they could be run out of their own rink.
Quick Stats and Thoughts:
- Jeff Skinner continues to be the focus of a lot of physical attention as teams are obviously studying tape and are trying to take him off his game. Someone will need to step up with some retaliation from the Hurricanes to even things up or else the cheap shots will eventually take their toll.
- Speaking of the rookie, with his goal he extended his point streak to four games.
- Jussi Jokinen started out on the first line with Staal and Cole, but then was moved to the Sutter line later in the game. Maurice might have been trying to get Zach Boychuk some more offensive support because for the first two periods, he was one of the best players for the Canes.
- The Canes were out-shot 35-29 and several of those 29 were in the last minute or so. Cole, Skinner, and Boychuk had a team high four shots each.
- Staal led all players, including defensemen, with 23:15 of TOI.
- Faceoffs were not good as the team finished at 40%. Staal had a team high 50% but Ruutu went 0-10.
- Jamie McBain had a team high three blocked shots.
- The team was credited with 20 hits. Boychuk, LaRose, and Ruutu had three each.
Post game interviews: