It was an almost perfect home opener for the Buffalo Sabres. A sell out crowd at the First Niagara Center got almost all their money’s worth as they got to see some great offense, great goaltending and mini brawl midway through the game.
The only disappointing part of the night was the Sabres falling victim to their first defeat of the season which was largely helped by an 0-for-6 powerplay while giving up two short-handed goals.
The Sabres were firing on all cylinders from the get go as they had the Carolina Hurricanes pinned in there own end for the first half of the period. The Sabres eventually broke the deadlock seven minutes into the first period when Jordan Leopold took a screened shot that was deflected home by Thomas Vanek giving him his team leading 3rd goal of the season and an early lead for the Sabres.
The lead didn’t last long however as just minutes later the Hurricanes responded with the equalizer. Defenseman Jay harrison took a shot from the point that had eyes and Miller never saw it as it grazed passed his blocker.
After the goal the hurricanes started to apply more pressure on the Sabres defense but a turnover in the neutral zone sprung Drew Stafford who fed the puck towards the net where Derek Roy tapped home the easy rebound to re take the lead for the Sabres.
The two teams continued to exchange puck possession in what was a fairly intense first period. Unfortunately things got out of hand when Hurricanes Defenseman Bryan Allen took a run at a defenseless Jason Pominville.
The hit caused Pominville to be shaken up a bit but he did remain in the game. There is no doubt that those are the kind of hits that the league is trying to get rid of so expect Mr. Allen to get a call from Brendan Shanahan.
The Sabres looked to be in a great position heading into the locker room with a 2-1 lead and on the powerplay however in the final minute of the period, a turnover by Vanek at the point led to a speedy Brandon Sutter to get in all alone on Miller and rip a laser top shelf to bring the game back even at 2-2.
The Sabres upped the pressure in the game however on the power play the sabres once again turn the puck over and after Juri Tlusty’s shot was stopped, Tim Brent tapped home the rebound to give the hurricanes their first lead of the game.
Later in the period tempers flared when Gaustad made purpose of getting even with Bryan Allen for his cheap shot on the team captain. A scrum ensued and at the end of it Gleason and Gaustad were given fighting majors.
The Sabres continued to press for the equalizer in the third period until with just 2:21 left in the game Drew Stafford backhanded the loose puck from just outside the crease after Tyler Myers did some great work to drive the puck towards the net.
Unfortunately for the Sabres, a costly penalty by Vanek with two minutes left in the game led to the eventual game winner as Jeff Skinner beat Miller from the top of the circle with 1:20 remaining in the third and with that Sabres suffered their first loss of the season.