The Carolina Hurricanes earned their first point of the season by taking Buffalo to overtime Tuesday, but the Sabres came out on top in the shootout to keep the Canes winless three games into the season.
1. Carolina needed someone — anyone — to step up with so many important players out of the lineup. Enter Chris Terry and Zach Boychuk, who teamed up for two third-period goals to tie the game. Both players have had their ups and downs throughout their career: Boychuk is a first round pick who hasn't realized his potential, while Terry has worked his way through the ranks and made the team out of camp. Boychuk had a heart-to-heart with coach Bill Peters after he was reassigned to Charlotte, but when injuries resulted in his early season recall he seemed to seize his chance and make an impression on Carolina’s new bench boss. Terry also made his mark by scoring the Hurricanes’ lone goal in the shootout.
There may not be space for both in the Hurricanes lineup once the team gets healthy, but the familiarity — and past success — Terry and Boychuk have with each other give the Hurricanes some hope in their bottom six.
2. Not only was Andrej Sekera injured and did not return to Tuesday's game, but everything about the sequence that resulted in him being hurt went sour for Carolina. First, Sekera was seemingly slashed and tripped while dancing through the offensive zone by eventual Buffalo goal scorer Marcus Foligno. Next, Justin Faulk looked lost on the ensuing slow-developing 2-on-1, committing to neither the shot nor the pass. Then after the goal, Sekera — the only player hustling to get back into the play — barely clipped Cam Ward’s right pad and flew head-first into the boards. The only positive is X-rays on Sekera (no word on what was examined, but Sekera seemed to be favoring his shouder) were negative.
3. Speaking of Ward, it wasn't his best performance. Torrey Mitchell’s goal, the Sabres’ second of the night, should have been stopped, and Ward failed to make a save on Foligno's second marker when he couldn't find the puck through a Ryan Murphy screen. But Ward looked good in the shootout, allowing only two goals on eight attempts, and deserved a better fate in the skill competition.
Number To Know
3 — Shootout goals in three attempts for Terry in his career. Terry potted both of his attempts last season with the Hurricanes and was the only Carolina player of eight to score on Jhonas Enroth Tuesday night. This isn't new for Terry: he was one of the AHL’s top shootout specialists last year, converting four of six tries.
Riley Nash — Boychuk and Terry got most of the postgame praise for combining on the two third-period goals, but Nash was Carolina’s best overall player Tuesday. Nash logged 21:20 of ice time, had the Hurricanes’ first goal, was 13 of 19 on faceoffs, and contributed in all facets on a night when Carolina was desperately thin at center.
Alexander Semin — Here's where possession stats and the eye test collide. Look at the regular boxscore and you'll see that Semin came up all zeros: no points, no shots, no nothing. But the possession numbers — which, like every opponent of the Sabres this season, were wildly in Carolina’s favor — show Semin had a monster game: a plus-21 Corsi and plus-12 Fenwick. DId Semin tilt the ice in Carolina"s favor Tuesday? Undoubtedly — he's a player Buffalo had to fear because of what he's capable of on every shift, and he was arguably the only player in the Carolina lineup that needed that kind of attention (it's worth noting that Jiri Tlusty is playing great right now, too). But there's also no doubt that Semin didn't have his A game on a night when needed when virtually all of the Hurricanes’ top players didn't play or were hurt. For one night, at least, the fancy stats didn't tell close to the full story.