The Buffalo Sabres came into Raleigh on Friday night a very fatigued team. Tonight’s tilt against the Hurricanes was their third in four nights and the second half of a back-to-back. Goalie Anders Nilsson was the starter for all three of those contests.
The Sabres sure didn’t show any of that fatigue off the hop. They had 7 of the game’s first 10 shots on goal, including a tally from rookie Will Carrier off of an uncharacteristic giveaway from Jaccob Slavin that made it 1-0.
The Sabres would then get the game’s first power play as Jay McClement took a seat for interference. The Hurricanes killed the penalty off with relative ease.
Carolina would then get a power play opportunity of their own as Rasmus Ristolainen held Jeff Skinner on his way to the net. Buffalo’s kill was able to match Carolina’s effort in terms of effectiveness.
The sluggish start on the part of the Hurricanes would continue as they mustered just 6 shots on goal in the first 15 minutes of the game. They would then get another opportunity on the power play with Taylor Fedun getting whistled for tripping.
This power play generated some solid momentum for the Hurricanes, but for the second consecutive advantage, the ‘Canes had trouble setting up in the Buffalo zone in the latter half of the power play.
The period ended with the Sabres ahead 1-0 in goals and 13-8 in shots. It was another rough first period for the Hurricanes, following
Whatever struggles the Hurricanes took into the locker room didn’t come back out with them, as Jeff Skinner tied the game at one with a shot from the left circle that leaked through Nilsson. Assists on the goal went to Derek Ryan and Jordan Staal.
Less than a minute later, Justin Faulk spring Skinner again, this time up the right wing, and Skinner made no mistake as he fired a laser past Nillson to make it 2-1 Carolina. The two goals were his 16th and 17th of the season, putting him well above pace for 30 on the year.
The second period went on with the Hurricanes sustaining a furious run of scoring opportunities. Shortly after Skinner’s two tallies, Nilsson was forced to make tough stops on Elias Lindholm, Sebastian Aho, and Lee Stempniak.
It wouldn’t be long until the Hurricanes were able to stretch their lead to two goals as Lindholm made an unbelievable play along the boards to undress Rasmus Ristolainen and fire a backhander off the pads of Nilsson. Waiting in front of the net to clean up the garbage was Brock McGinn, and the Hurricanes were officially swinging away.
They would get a chance to extend their lead on the power play, as Nic Deslauriers took a frustration penalty when he dumped Noah Hanifin in the neutral zone.
It wound up being the Sabres, though, who would use this penalty to change the flow of the game. As the puck was cleared into Carolina’s zone, Cam Ward went to play the puck in front of the net. He smacked it behind him off the boards, but didn’t put enough of an angle on it as Brian Gionta captured the rebound and tucked it into the open half of the net for his 9th goal of the season.
The period ended with the Hurricanes ahead 3-2 but behind 26-22 in shots on goal. If the Hurricanes wanted to hold this lead in the third period, they were going to need to tighten things up a little bit defensively.
It was the offense that would get the job of closing this one out started, as Victor Rask buried the rebound of a shot that Noah Hanifin had sent wide of the boards. Skinner picked up an assist as well, and the score was made 4-2.
Before the halfway point of the period, the ‘Canes would extend their lead even further, as McGinn buried his second of the game after a fantastic net drive by Staal.
Carolina would get a chance to add even more to their lead as Fedun took another penalty, but the Sabres were able to kill it off.
Staal was then sent to the sin bin for a kneeing minor, but the Hurricanes likewise had the answer for the Sabres’ power play.
The game wound down with little drama aside from whether or not either of McGinn or Skinner would be able to complete their respective hat tricks. Unfortunately, neither of them found a way to do so, but it’s probably for the best that they save their goals for another night. Say, like, tomorrow night.
The Hurricanes will wrap up and look to sweep this four game home-stand tomorrow night with their first meeting of the season with the New York Islanders.
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