Once again, the Buffalo Sabres played one good period of hockey Tuesday night. But the Carolina Hurricanes played three and grabbed an early lead they never relinquished in a 4-3 win in Raleigh.
The Sabres lost with pride, but as they frequently have throughout this season, the Sabres surrendered an early lead. Just 89 seconds in, Jiri Tlusty took an Eric Staal pass from the boards and one-timed it from the slot past Ryan Miller. Tyler Myers made a double-gaffe on the play, first whiffing on a clearing attempt and then backing toward Miller rather than taking the shooter as the pass came in. Carolina dominated the period, taking a 12-6 edge in shots and 1-0 lead on the scoreboard into the locker room.
Buffalo finally decided to start seriously testing Canes goalie Justin Peters – making his season debut after being called up from the AHL – about halfway through the second period. But he stood tall, stopping 16 shots in the period. Miller stopped all 12 Carolina shots to end the second period the same way the first ended.
The Sabres finally broke through in the third period. Cody Hodgson received a fortunate bounce in front of the net, as a Thomas Vanek dump-in bounced off the glass and right to Hodgson, who tapped in the puck 25 seconds in. Carolina seized back the momentum immediately, though, as Jussi Jokinen beat Miller 50 seconds later to regain the Canes' two-goal lead.
But Buffalo stayed strong, firing 18 third-period shots and keeping control of the game. The Sabres finally broke through on the power play at the 14:33 mark, with T.J. Brennan slapping in his first goal of the season. Again, though, the Canes weathered the storm and responded with an Alexander Semin tally two minutes later. Despite a Vanek penalty in the final two minutes, Hodgson was able to halve the deficit, scoring a shorthanded goal with 35 seconds that proved to be too little, too late.
For the third straight game, Buffalo put forth its best effort in the third period. But it wasn't enough to get a point, though, ending Buffalo's four-game point streak in the standings.
"It comes back to playing a full 60 minutes. It’s what’s gotten us in trouble the past three years that I can remember," Myers said. "It’s frustrating knowing we can play like that and we don’t do it for a full 60."
Staal ended the night with three assists. Jason Pominville had two assists for Buffalo. Peters made 37 saves in the win.
Carolina improved to 13-8-1 to remain in front of the Southeast Divsion with 27 points. Buffalo fell to 9-13-2, with its 20 points leaving the Sabres in 13th place in the Eastern Conference, four points out of a playoff spot and one point out of last.
The Hurricanes swept the three-game season series with the Sabres. Buffalo next plays Thursday in New Jersey.
Tags: Buffalo, Buffalo Sabres, Hockey, NHL
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