These two teams have only met once so far this season, with three more to go. Buffalo won that meeting 5-1, scoring all their goals in the third period. The Sabres are just 2-5-1 in its last eight games.
Carolina took a 1-0 lead when Aaron Ward scored his first goal of the season. After being outshot 8-4, Buffalo got on the board towards the end of the first. Andrej Sekera took a shot from the point that was deflected by Jochen Hecht to tie the game at one.
Buffalo put on the pressure in the second period, outshooting Carolina 18-9, but neither team could score a goal. Early in the third period, the Hurricanes regained their one goal lead again. Eric Staal scored the Carolina goal.
Buffalo quickly responded with a goal of their own less than a minute later. Drew Stafford took a shot that deflected off of Derek Roy and into the net for a 2-2 game. Just a minute later Stafford took a shot from the point and Buffalo had its first lead of the night.
The Hurricanes stormed right back and tied the game at three with a goal from Tom Kostopoulos. Carolina would then take the lead with just under four minutes to play in the third. Jussi Jokinen took a shot from a bad angle the Ryan Miller misplayed, giving the Canes a 4-3 lead.
The Sabres were unable to put on any kind of pressure in the last couple minutes of the game. Buffalo has now lost three in a row, and are in jeopardy of losing the division lead against Ottawa on Saturday night.
Buffalo does not have much room for error anymore. A couple of weeks ago, they were sitting atop the Northeast Division with a 12 points lead. Now, Ottawa is just one point behind them, winning their last 11 straight.
Buffalo’s next four games are against teams that are 24th in the league or worse. This is a perfect opportunity for the Sabres to gain confidence and get back to their winning ways. They will then host San Jose before the Olympic break.
Kevin "Lazy Feet" Freiheit