Don't look now, but Carolina's dominating first line of last season seems to be back as the Hurricanes got two goals from red hot Alexander Semin and another one from Jiri Tlusty, while the Canes came from behind three times to defeat the Buffalo Sabres, 5-3 on Thursday night at First Niagara Center.
The line of Eric Staal, Tlusty, and Semin was one of the league's most productive last season, but they got off to a slow start this year and were quickly broken up. They seem to have found their collective mojo now though as Semin has a four game goal streak, (six goals), and Staal has a four game assist streak.
The Hurricanes have now won three of their last four games and eight of their last 11. This win gives the team a 22-19-9 record, good enough for fifth place in the Metro Division. They jumped the Caps and Devils with the victory.
The game did not start out well though as the home team seemed to have more jump and got several open chances against Anton Khudobin. Cody Hodgson got behind Jay Harrison for Buffalo's first goal midway through the first period, but Jeff Skinner would answer two minutes later with a tricky backhander which fooled Sabres goalie, Jhonas Enroth.
The Sabres made it 2-1 early in the second when Harrison and Khudobin both went for a loose puck in the crease but neither got it. Semin had an answer though during a delayed penalty call against the Sabres as once again, the Russian skated from end-to-end and beat the goalie from just beyond the slot area with a wicked wrister to tie the score, 2-2.
For the third time this night, the Sabres jumped into the lead when Tyler Ennis beat Khudobin just 48 seconds into the third period.
Carolina's first line went to work though and Tlusty won a battle and got the puck to Staal behind the net. The captain sent the puck to the front of the net where Semin was skating and "Sasha" tipped it past Enroth to tie up the score once again.
Just 2:25 later, Andrej Sekera made a very pretty play and skated from side to side along the blueline, (East - West for those keeping track), and found an opening as he beat Enroth for the eventual game-winner. It was the defenseman's eighth goal of the season, extending his previous career high.
Both teams battled the rest of the way until Tlusty skated down a puck while being hacked with the Buffalo net empty. The Czech was able to get the puck into the net with less than a second left on the clock to close out the game.
The Canes will return home to prepare for the match against Ottawa on Saturday at noon, (which was moved from the originally scheduled time of Friday night.)
- Drayson Bowman returned to action and skated for the injured Patrick Dwyer in this one. He played 13:12 but did not register anything on the scoresheet.
- The Canes outshot the Sabres 33-29. "Dobby" made 26 saves and was put to the test several times, including a couple of breakaways. Jordan Staal led the team with seven shots and Skinner was next with five.
- Sekera had two assists to go with his goal and finished with a +4. The blueliner also had a team high two blocked shots.
- Ruutu, Tlusty, and Komisarek each had three hits, which led the Canes.
- Postgame interviews can be found here - Canes PR.com.