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Recap: Youth and experience lead the Canes to a 3-1 victory

Leadership comes in all forms, as proven by both Justin Williams and Sebastian Aho tonight.

NHL: Carolina Hurricanes at Buffalo Sabres Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

The Carolina Hurricanes defeated the Buffalo Sabres 3-1 on Saturday night behind goals from their youngest and oldest stars. Combined with a excellent performance by Scott Darling, the Canes got the two points they needed as they head into a key divisional matchup tomorrow.

The first period was truly quiet, uneventful, and sleep-inducing for the most part. The Hurricanes had an excellent opportunity early as they had 1:16 of a 5-on-3 after Kyle Okposo was called for hooking and Zemgus Girgensons attempted to clear a puck to the far upper deck of KeyBank Center. To no one’s surprise, the 5-on-3 was lethargic and generated nothing for the Canes.

At the 15:09 mark of the first Victor Antipin was called for holding on Joakim Nordstrom, putting the Canes back on the powerplay where they once again failed to score. The Hurricanes succeeded in suffocating the Sabres offensively in the first and did not allow a shot on goal until past the 17-minute mark of the 1st period.

Marcus Kruger was given a minor penalty for hooking to hand the Sabres a man advantage. On the ensuing powerplay Scott Darling experienced all three basic human emotions as the Sabres fired a shot that got stuck on the side of the net, but the red light went off and the goal horn sounded. Brett breaks this sequence down for us:

Play continued and the Hurricanes killed off the penalty sending the teams to their locker rooms tied 0-0.

Coming out to start the second Jeff Skinner had a partial break away stopped by Chad Johnson; Skinner tried to go five-hole but it was snuffed out. The next 10 minutes were another back and forth snore fest as neither team generated any real offense. Both Darling and Johnson held their own and it wasn’t until the 12:33 mark when Justin Williams took a penalty for hooking that things began to heat up.

Buffalo generated a couple of good chances on their powerplay, but the Canes were able to kill it off and as Williams exited the box Kruger made a beautiful pass to get him the puck. Williams then walked in with Derek Ryan on a two-on-one, and after a stutter step Williams was able to out-wait Chad Johnson to score, giving the Hurricanes a 1-0 lead.

Carolina would get one more powerplay opportunity late in the second as Johan Larsson sat for high-sticking, but the Canes’ anemic powerplay failed to convert once again. Scott Darling made a great save on Larsson, who was left all alone in front of the net, right before he took the penalty so had the Hurricanes scored it would’ve been a lovely turn of events. Alas, they did not, and the two teams left the ice with the Hurricanes up 1-0 at intermission.

For the first 10+ minutes of the third period it was all about Scott Darling and his numerous saves on various Sabres players. At the 12:27 mark Evander Kane snuck behind Haydn Fleury and Justin Faulk where he opened up Darling to tie the game at 1-1.

Just 10 seconds later Kane appeared to score again as the puck went got past a sprawling Darling. The play was reviewed and overturned due to a distinct kicking motion by Kane, keeping the game at 1-1 but all the momentum had shifted to Buffalo.

Then Sebastian Aho, Sebastian Aho’d.

The other Justin Falk turned the puck over in the Buffalo zone where Aho lurked. He picked up the loose puck, walked in, and pocketed the puck past Chad Johnson with just under five minutes left in the third. This was Aho’s third goal in three games, and needless to say Seabass is on fire. Teuvo Teravainen was credited with a assist on the goal, which gives him 10 on the season and he now leads the Hurricanes in points.

Joakim Nordstrom added an empty netter at 19:20 and the Hurricanes won the race to three goals, topping the Sabres 3-1.

Up next is a rematch with the New York Islanders tomorrow night at 5pm at PNC Arena.

Rank the Performances

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