Preseason hockey with Doc Emrick on the mic? Yes and please. What a wonderful treat on an early October Tuesday night. So was the scene, as the Carolina Hurricanes and Buffalo Sabres took part in the culmination of the 2016 Kraft Hockeyville celebration in Marquette, Michigan as they took the ice for a preseason contest.
In front of a packed house at the Lakeview Arena, each team came out with plenty of energy, but Cam Ward and Robin Lehner were solid in their respective nets in the 1st period, as the score remained 0-0 after 20 minutes.
Early in the 2nd, Nicolas Deslauriers opened the scoring for the Sabres just 1:39 into the 2nd period as he lifted a rebound over Ward’s right shoulder. The Hurricanes pushed back immediately, forcing the puck deep in the Sabres zone, and drawing a penalty. On the power play the Hurricanes peppered Lehner with shots, including Phil Di Giuseppe ringing a shot off the right post only to fly high and fall harmlessly in front of Lehner in the crease.
The Hurricanes carried the play for much of the 2nd period, but a Ron Hainsey turnover in the defensive zone led to a point shot from Casey Nelson which was tipped past Ward by Sam Reinhart with under 3 minutes remaining in the 2nd to make it 2-0.
The Hurricanes opened the 3rd period with yet another push, but was unable to cash in with a goal. The 3rd period continued with a sequence of penalties from each side. The Hurricanes had a few decent looks, but nothing could find its way into the back of the net, and the contest ended with a 2-0 Sabres victory.
Scoring Touch Lacking
The Hurricanes played tonight without Jeff Skinner, Victor Rask, Lee Stempniak, Sebastian Aho and Teuvo Teravainen, all whom are expected to be big offensive contributors in the coming season as forwards. The Hurricanes were also without Justin Faulk and Jaccob Slavin, two of their more offensively-minded defensemen. That being said, the two issues going into this season are scoring and goaltending. The development of a balanced scoring attack (which will include many of the bodies who were on the ice tonight) will be crucial.
- The Hurricanes were outshot 11-9 in the 1st period, but outshot the Sabres 15-10 in the 2nd.
- Each team received 4 powerplays, but neither team was able to cash in on the man advantage.
- Julien Gauthier got another opportunity to try and earn a spot on the roster, but was unable to make the type of impact he will need to supply to make the team.
- Patrick Brown made a few nifty plays, including a wonderful fight for a loose puck and setup for a one-timer from Brody Sutter in the 3rd period. He also stood out for the solid high-energy play he provided on the penalty kill.
- The Hurricanes iced the following defensive pairings: Hainsey-Pesce, Hanifin-Murphy and Lowe-Tennyson. It will be interesting to see if they go with Hainsey and Pesce next Thursday, or if they return Hainsey alongside Faulk. Stay tuned.
Back to Back in Sault Ste. Marie
The Hurricanes return to the ice tomorrow in the hometown of GM Ron Francis against the very same Buffalo Sabres at 7 pm. Following that, the Hurricanes return home for their final preseason game against the Washington Capitals at PNC Arena on Friday night.