It isn’t necessarily how you draw it up, but the most important takeaway from the Carolina Hurricanes’ win over the Buffalo Sabres is that the playoff berth is secured.
For the fourth consecutive season, the Canes will be in the postseason which is a testament to the team and culture that has been building here since 2018.
It is also just the second time in team history that Carolina has broken the 100-point mark. It’s worth mentioning too, that the last Hurricanes team to do that went on to win a Stanley Cup.
But back to the game at hand, it was not what you’d have called pretty, by any stretch of the imagination.
Just 48 hours after head coach Rod Brind’Amour spoke on needing a full 60-minute effort and a few Carolina players spoke on the overall lack of effort costing them the game, you would have expected the Hurricanes to come out flying and playing much tighter in their own end.
Well, the first part held true as the team laid a couple of big hits early on, but the defense was bad. Very bad. Turnovers and blown coverages were the name of the game early and the one reason why Buffalo was leading 2-0 a little over six minutes into the event.
Old friend Jeff Skinner tallied two primary assists as he set up each of the first two goals, the first being a drop pass to Tage Thompson after Skinner managed to create space on Jaccob Slavin with a tight turn and the second being a set up from behind the goal line to Alex Tuch cruising through the slot.
In the second period though, Carolina started to build some momentum out of the gate and a rush chance culminating from a steal by Seth Jarvis in the neutral zone got the Canes on the board.
Picking off an errant pass at the blueline, Jarvis reloaded the Hurricanes’ attack, passed it to Andrei Svechnikov, who laced it cross-ice to Sebastian Aho for the score.
But before the Hurricanes even had time to savor that goal, another brutally blown defense coverage saw the two-goal deficit return. Victor Olofsson was left unmarked and he opened up Raanta’s five-hole and slid it in.
The game got uglier from there as Carolina conceded seven high-danger chances in the second period alone according to NaturalStatTrick.com, but Raanta put together some key saves and then it was Buffalo’s turn to make the egregious mistake this time.
Late in the second, Cody Eakin elected to try and airmail a puck from his own defensive corner where Teuvo Tervainen gloved the pass down setting himself up with a clear look from the slot which he did not miss on.
And this proved to be the spark the Hurricanes needed as the crowd came back to life, giving Carolina some much needed energy.
In the third period, it was back to the Carolina Hurricanes we know so well and it was none other than the captain who found the equalizer.
In signature fashion, some hard forechecking by the Staal line created a turnover in the Buffalo zone and a couple of quick passes set Jordan Staal up for a great look which he sniped into the top corner.
And not long after that Aho would get his second of the game after Svechnikov did the heavy lifting along the boards to get it back out to the Finnish center for the go-ahead goal.
The Canes shut it down from there and Staal iced the game away with an empty netter to secure the win for his team.
The playoff bound Hurricanes will be back in action tomorrow as they play host to the New York Islanders at 7 p.m.