The Carolina Hurricanes captured a topsy-turvy affair that saw them never actually trail, but also not earn victory until a Teuvo Teravainen OT winner that capped a 6-5 thriller in Buffalo.
An explosive third period saw three goals per side, and although most of the highlights were reserved for the final regulation period, both Curtis McElhinney and Linus Ullmark were peppered with quality chances for most of the night, with McElhinney stopping 31 shots and Ullmark 24. Teravainen’s night produced two goals and three points total, while former Cane Jeff Skinner notched two important third period goals for the Sabres. Eleven different Canes and Sabres found the score sheet, as offense ruled the day.
As they have done so often in their solid play of late, the Canes struck first. A wonderful pass from Sebastian Aho to a crashing Justin Faulk in the right circle get the Canes on the board just over four minutes into action. The Canes continued a fruitful first period, and the momentum carried into the second period as Teravainen cleaned up near the crease after a Jordan Martinook shot rang off the crossbar, and Carolina was out in front 2-0.
After Teravainen’s goal however, the Sabres officially engaged. They continued to challenge McElhinney in the Carolina end, and just shy of the halfway point in the game, Evan Rodrigues provided the first reward on the board for Buffalo as his wrister drew the Sabres within a goal. The push continued, with McElhinney turning aside a tight chance from Conor Sheary among other opportunities. But at 15:14 of the second, longtime Sabre Jason Pominville knotted the score at 2. Through two periods, the Sabres had been the aggressors, but gave Carolina a reason for optimism just prior to the end of the second.
As the Canes sought to regroup, they were given a power play that extended into the third period. While the Canes again failed to cash in on the man advantage (11 straight empty PP’s at that point), Greg McKegg deposited the puck from the door step after a swift feed from Trevor van Riemsdyk to give the Canes the lead again. The lead was short-lived, however. Following a mad scramble in front of the Buffalo net, a clearing ricocheted off a skate and sprung Jeff Skinner towards McElhinney with Faulk in tow on his hip. Skinner muscled Faulk off him and flipped a backhander past McElhinney to even the score.
As the third period rolled on, the Canes began to put together what was arguably their best period of the night, and they were rewarded for their constant pressure as Martinook missed the net from out front, but regathered the bouncing puck behind the net and fed Brock McGinn out in front for the go ahead marker just over halfway through the final stanza. With just over five minutes remaining, Skinner missed a golden opportunity, and followed up his miss with an ill-timed (and perhaps dubious) slashing penalty. The Canes broke the power play drought with Nino Niederreiter cashing in right in front on a terrific feed from Teravainen.
The Sabres would not go quietly however, as Marco Scandella answered back just over a minute later as McElhinney went down on what may have been goalie interference (the Canes were without their challenge, having used it on Pominville’s tally in the second period). The goal drew the Sabres within one goal at 5-4. With 55.4 seconds remaining, Skinner got his revenge for the earlier penalty, as his beat McElhinney from the left circle to tie the game, and ultimately sending the contest into overtime.
In the three-on-three period, each team created chances, but after Jack Eichel missed the net, Carolina broke free with a 2-on-0 opportunity. Teravainen tucked the winner past Ullmark with a tight backhand-forehand deke, giving the Canes their first OT win since November 12 and extending their winning streak over the Sabres to eight consecutive games.
The Canes exited Buffalo with two points, vaulting ahead of the Sabres by one point in the overall standings. Carolina will head to the Big Apple to attempt to break their losing streak in Madison Square Garden on Friday night, as the Rangers honor their 1994 Stanley Cup winning squad, with faceoff taking place at 8:00 p.m.