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Seventh Heaven: Hurricanes 3, Sabres 2 (OT)

The Carolina Hurricanes battled from behind twice, held on until regulation, then won the game on a Jamie McBain shot from the point as they defeated the Buffalo Sabres on Thursday night, 3-2 in overtime.

The win, coupled with the New York Rangers loss to Minnesota, pushed the Canes into seventh place in the Eastern Conference. 

This was a tough, physical, in your face game with playoff intensity throughout. 

After a scoreless first period, in which the Canes killed off three penalties, the Sabres drew first blood on a goal by Steve Montador just 4:35 into the second.  The puck squirted out to the point and the defenseman rifled it past Ward. 

The Canes drew even quickly though as Jiri Tlusty knocked a loose puck into an open net just two minutes and change later as Ryan Miller got caught out of position. 

The Sabres scored again later in the period when Brad Boyes got behind Jeff Skinner, and he put one in from Cam Ward's doorstep.  But the rookie made up for his mistake 1:11 later and backhanded a perfect pass to Chad LaRose, who was open in front of the net. LaRose did not miss, as once again, surprisingly, Miller was out of position.

The two teams battled back and forth the entire third, but neither could gain advantage as most of the game stats were pretty even.  The Canes did have to kill a penalty with 3:39 left, but the penalty kill unit stood strong like they did all game and killed off the pressure packed sequence. 

McBain would get his shot off from the point just 26 seconds into the extra period as the puck just barely got under Miller for the game-winner.  Joni Pitkanen and Eric Staal had the helpers.

The team will travel to Chicago immediately after the game for a match with the Chicago Blackhawks on Friday night. 

Quick Thoughts and Stats:

  • The Hurricanes held the Sabres to under 30 shots, one of the few times they have done that to an opponent all season. 
  • The team had a total of 25 blocked shots, led by Bryan Allen and Joni Pitkanen with five each.
  • Tuomo Ruutu had a team high four shots on goal and also team high five hits.  Carolina finished with 27 hits compared to 18 for Buffalo, but it seemed like a much more physical game than those totals.  Bryan Allen was only given credit for two, but it seemed like he had more than that.
  • Speaking of Allen, it was nice to see him skate into scrums and stick up for his new teammates.  He's also got the size that when he tries to pull someone away from a crowd, he's able to do it.  
  • One stat the team needs to improve on is that they were called for six penalties in the game.  Fortunately, the penalty kill was top notch tonight.The Sabres were called for three penalties.  The Canes powerplay went 0-3, but they got pretty close a couple of times on their final chance.
  • According to Lindy Ruff, his team played very well.  He said if not for hitting the post a couple of times, they would have won.  Nice to see the Hurricanes beat them when the Sabres are at the top of their game.  This was just Buffalo's fourth loss in their last 14 road games and two of those were OT losses. 
  • McBain came close to scoring in the second period, right before Tlusty's goal.  He just missed his shot as he tried an attempt from in close, but Tlusty was there to finish the job.  In the third period, Chad LaRose had a beautiful chance at a second goal, but just missed an open net as he sent his attempt high.
  • Jussi Jokinen took 10 faceoffs and finished with a game high 80%.  The team finished at 49% for the game. 
  • As Cory mentioned after the Florida game, there was beautiful time allocation for the defense again in this game.  Pitkanen had 23:29 of TOI, Corvo 22:41, McBain 19:56, Gleason 18:36, Allen 17:24, and Harrison 18:50.  What a huge difference this could make if the coaching staff is able to continue.
  • After the game, Maurice more or less said that it would be up to Cam Ward if he starts game number 25 in a row in Chicago.  "We will assess Cam before the game.......If he feels strong and he feels good, then he will play." 
  • There were only 15,213 at this game.  It was the smallest crowd since January 11 when about 10,000 hearty souls battled through a snowstorm to be at the RBC.
  • Carolina is now 5-1-1 in its last seven home games.


Post game interviews: