The Canes put together an entirely lackluster performance Tuesday night in Buffalo, falling 4-2 to a Sabres team that has been playing good hockey as of late but still shouldn’t be taking it to the Hurricanes.
Carolina came out of the gate strong and played a good first period, taking a 1-0 lead to the first intermission thanks to a drought-busting tally from Jesper Fast. But the second was bad, as Jeff Skinner and Casey Mittelstadt gave Buffalo the lead.
Nino Niederreiter tied it up early in the third for the Hurricanes, but a defensive lapse for the Canes led to a Victor Olofsson game-winning goal which was followed by a power-play tally from Dylan Cozens.
The Canes’ game was pretty rough overall, and apart from the Niederreiter-Jordan Staal-Fast line nothing was really good. That line was great, scoring both goals as Staal picked up NHL points 600 and 601 with assists on both.
Frederik Andersen, while not awful, certainly wasn’t great, stopping 18 of 22 shots faced for the Canes. Craig Anderson was the winning netminder with a 32-save effort.
Carolina got the game’s first 10 shots on goal, controlling the play while killing off one penalty and getting a few good looks on one power play.
The Canes opened up the scoring with about five minutes left in the first frame, as the Niederreiter-Staal-Fast line did what it does so well and fought for a hard-earned goal.
Staal went to battle on the boards to keep the puck in the offensive zone for the Canes, as Niederreiter picked it up and threaded a great backhanded centering pass to Fast. The finish was really good for Fast, who picked up his first goal since March 1 to end a 16-game scoreless streak.
And while the first period was pretty good for the Canes, the second period was the complete opposite.
The Sabres kind of dominated the middle 20 minutes as the Hurricanes couldn’t get anything going while Buffalo scored twice to grab a hold of the lead.
The first Buffalo goal came just 1:21 into the second period, as a Carolina turnover led to a 2-on-1 break for the Sabres. Tage Thompson made a fantastic pass across to Skinner, who had an open net to tally on against his former team.
The Sabres made it 2-1 a couple minutes later, as Mittelstadt skated into the circle and laced a beautiful cross-goal wrister to beat Andersen clean on the far side.
The Canes had an empty power play late in the second period, much worse than the scoreless first-period man advantage, and they couldn’t quite find their game as the second intermission came.
Rod Brind’Amour completely shuffled three of the Canes’ lines to start the third period, but he kept together the game’s best unit in Niederreiter-Staal-Fast.
And that line struck again early in the third to tie the game up, as Staal made another great play to find Niederreiter right out front for the game-tying tally.
Get pucks deep and then Jordo will find Nino who will find the back of the net pic.twitter.com/CkDmRvbz1v— Carolina Hurricanes (@Canes) April 6, 2022
The goal gave the Hurricanes some life as the third period went along, but a brutal mistake by Carolina let the Sabres regain the lead slightly against the run of play.
Shortly after Brendan Smith had a great chance turned away by Anderson, Seth Jarvis pretty awfully misplayed a clearance attempt on the other end of the ice. The Canes were caught out of position with Olofsson completely alone in the circle, and Olofsson converted to make it 3-2 after Rasmus Dahlin did a good job to get the puck to him.
Shortly after the go-ahead goal Buffalo went to the power play, and this time the Sabres converted. Late in the man advantage a puck got through a block attempt from Brendan Smith, and Cozens won a battle against Jaccob Slavin near the crease to double the Sabres’ lead to 4-2.
The Canes pulled Andersen early and had a ton of possession with the extra skater, but they couldn’t do anything with it as they failed to score during the nearly four minutes with Andersen on the bench.
The Hurricanes will get a chance at some redemption Thursday night at home, as it will be the Sabres coming to PNC Arena for a quick rematch.