The perfect preseason was not to be for the Carolina Hurricanes, whose group of fringe roster players fell behind 3-0 in the first period and failed to battle all the way back in a 4-2 loss against the Buffalo Sabres.
Rod Brind’Amour and co. went into Tuesday’s tilt with the plan of rolling with a lineup comprised of players on the edge of making the team, so Carolina’s regulars had the night off against an opening-night-style Sabres team.
With that in mind, the first period played out exactly how you would expect.
Buffalo capitalized on a long two-on-one opportunity at the seven-minute mark. Jeff Skinner saucered a pass to Vinnie Hinostroza, who managed to flip a shot over the glove of Pyotr Kotchetkov to make it a 1-0 game.
After a failed Carolina power play opportunity, Buffalo added to the lead. Tage Thompson picked off an errant pass in the Buffalo zone, turned up ice, and won the point-to-point race before sliding the puck by a diving Kotchetkov to double the lead.
Tempers proceeded to flair and then erupt after Thompson got whistled for a slash on Jalen Chatfield. Both parties dropped the gloves, an altercation ensued, and they were rewarded with five minutes in the penalty box.
Dylan Cozens capped off the barrage of first-period Buffalo offense with a shorthanded tally with just under two minutes to go in the opening frame.
The second period was far more even, as the offense screeched to a halt and both teams scratched across just five shots on goal apiece.
After putting their game together in the second period, the Hurricanes’ offense followed suit in the third period. A scrum in front of veteran goalie Craig Anderson resulted in some pinball action and a Jamieson Rees goal to put Carolina on the board.
19 seconds later, Malte Stromwall rifled a shot from the slot that beat Anderson for his second preseason goal and make it 3-2.
Oh boy, we've got a game!— Walt Ruff (@WaltRuff) October 5, 2022
Malte Stromwall follows just 30 seconds after Rees and it's now a 3-2 contest. Tremendous job by Ethan Bear to pick off the attempted breakout. pic.twitter.com/uGfGzxWVe6
The clubs went back and forth with offensive chances over the final 18 minutes of the game, but Anderson and Kotchetkov held strong down the stretch.
The Sabres put the game away with an empty-netter with 1:20 left in the game, making the score 4-2, which is where it would remain when the final horn sounded.
Brind’Amour said before the game that the preseason finale would be more about individuals than the team systems. That was apparent in the early going, but his group did put the pieces together as the game went on and it set the table for an entertaining third period.
The door is now closed on the Hurricanes’ preseason schedule. The next time the puck drops, it will be on opening night when the Columbus Blue Jackets visit Raleigh next Wednesday.