With twenty games to go, we are going to be used to saying this every game night. This, is a must win for the Sabres. Tonight’s game however, was the epitome of that cliche. The Sabres came into tonight’s matchup two points behind Carolina with two games in hand for the 8th and final playoff spot.
The first period started with the Sabres placing heavy pressure on the Carolina Hurricanes, including three power play opportunities. Outside of the first man advantage, the Sabres power play did not look good.
The best scoring chance of the period for both teams came when Thomas Vanek, on a clear breakaway, missed an open net on Cam Ward after completing a stellar move to get the net minder out of position.
The second Period was filled with scoring chances and goals for both teams. Buffalo struck first at 4:35 after a great effort in the corner by Sekera and Ennis. The two out muscled Eric Cole, and sent the puck back to the point for a slapshot from Steve Montador for his 5th of the season.
Carolina score at 6:46 to knot the game at one, on a scramble in front of the net. The first shot by Brandon Sutter went off the post to the right of Miller and bounced into the crease. With Miller out of position, Tim Connelly was able to chip the puck off a Carolina stick, followed by Shaone Morrison pushing it out of the crease onto the stick of a waiting JiriTlusty for his 6th of the season.
Just under four minutes later, Buffalo took it’s second lead of the game, as recently acquired Brad Boyes score his second in a Sabre uniform and 14th of the season. Boyes was able to tap in the rebound off a slapshot from the point by Sekera.
Carolina came right back to tie the game at two at 11:58, after a poor play of the puck behind the net by Ryan Miller. Miller’s clearing attempt up the left wing board resulted in a turn over to rookie scoring leader Jeff Skinner.
As Miller attempted to get back into the net, stumbled when coming around the post, which allowed Chad LaRose to tap in the puck into a wide open net, with Miller’s back to the play.
The third period was scoreless, with Buffalo having the bulk of the scoring Chances. Brad Boyes was stopped on a break away at approximately 4 minute mark, then also struck the right post on a powerplay in the last 2 minutes of the period. Ennis also stuck the post less then a minute later. The game ended at 2 after regulation.
Overtime lasted 26 seconds, with Jamie McBain scoring on a slapshot from 10 feet inside the blue line. Miller was screened by Marc Staal and Sekera in front of the net, allowing the puck to sneak through Miler’s legs for a 3-2 victory for the Hurricanes.
Game Notes: Rob Niedermayer was a healthy scratch for the first time this year. Niedermayer missed time earlier this year with a knee injury – – Andrej Sekera has six points in his last three games after being a healthy scratch for three games (1G 5A).