Special teams shined for Carolina as they won their second game of the year on Friday night in Buffalo.
The Hurricanes had trouble keeping out of the penalty box once again, but the penalty kill unit not only killed all of the chances they faced, they scored two shorthanded goals to boot as the Canes ruined the Sabres home opener, 4-3.
Tim Brent and Brandon Sutter scored the shorties and Jeff Skinner buried a powerplay tally with 1:24 left in regulation to put the game away for the visitors.
Thomas Vanek would start things off for the Sabres at 6:58 into the first period, but Jay Harrison tied things up less than two minutes later with a wicked wrister from the point, right at the end of a powerplay.
Harrison was really looking for his offense in this affair as he was credited with a career high five shots on goal. The tally would have been his first career powerplay goal, but it was changed to an even strength score later in the game.
It was a wild, back and forth first period. Derek Roy put the home team back up as he cleaned up a rebound/pass on a pretty 2-on-1 break with Drew Stafford. That score was a minute and 41 seconds after Harrison's goal.
But the Canes would tie things up again, this time when Brandon Sutter scored his unassisted shortie with just 12 seconds left in the opening period.
The scoring calmed down a bit in the second period, but tempers flared. Tim Gleason and Paul Gaustad dropped the gloves when several players came together on the side of the Carolina net. Bryan Allen took out Jason Pominville earlier in the game with a hard hit at the blueline. This was a gritty, physical affair all night long.
Again, while killing a penalty during the second period, Jiri Tlusty started another 2-on-1 with a nice defensive play and broke in on Ryan Miller with teammate Tim Brent. Tlusty put the puck at the opposite side of Miller and Brent knocked in the rebound to give the Canes their first lead of the game.
Buffalo put the pressure on in the third period, but the Canes counter-attacked nicely when they had the opportunity. Ward was solid in net throughout, but the defense was clearing away rebounds as well.
With 2:21 left in the game, the puck took a home team bounce as it hit something on a dump in along the boards and skittered to the front of the net. Jay Harrison was behind the net waiting for the puck, but Drew Stafford was ready for it and popped it in over Ward to tie the game.
But shortly after, Vanek inadvertently tripped Tim Gleason and the Canes went on a powerplay of their own. The first unit moved the puck beautifully just before Jussi Jokinen found Skinner all alone with a no-look, cross ice pass and last season's rookie of the year made no mistake, beating Miller for the game winner. Eric Staal was screening the goalie on the play.
The Canes will travel home before flying to Boston as they continue their (State Fair) road trip.
- Tim Gleason was +2 for the game and added to his league leading plus/minus stat, (+5). He was also given credit for a team high three hits.
- For being such a physical game, the Canes were only awarded an official eight hits for their trouble.
- Once again Bryan Allen led the way with three blocked shots. Joni Pitkanen also had three blocks and had a team high 24:05 of ice time.
- They finished at 50% in the faceoff circle. Brandon Sutter continued to shine and had a 62% mark. The rest of the centers were : Staal 42%, Jokinen 64%, and Brent 50%.
- Zac Dalpe left the game early with a lower body concern. It looked like he took an awkward hit behind the net. There was no update at the time of this article.
- The team almost had a franchise best four shorties. Sutter hit the post on another open try and Staal was stopped by Miller on a clean breakaway as he was set up nicely by Alexei Ponikarovsky.
- Cam Ward was outstanding in this game again as he made several clutch stops throughout. He finished with 39 saves on 42 shots. The Canes had 34 shots of their own. Staal and Harrison led the club with five shots each.
- The team gave Paul Maurice a game puck afterward since this was his 900th career game for the franchise. This was another true team effort, from top to bottom.
- Jamie McBain and Gleason both had a team high +2, while Staal picked up his game a lot in the third but finished with a team low (-3).