The Buffalo Sabres played host to the Carolina Hurricanes, tonight at the First Niagara Center.
From the drop of the opening faceoff, the Sabres looked to capitalize on the Hurricanes’ schedule. Carolina had played last night in Philadelphia.
Buffalo quickly controlled the puck and provided much offensive pressure, but as the story has gone, no goals were scored.
That would change at 10:15, when Cody Hodgson would turn a Jay Harrison turnover into a laser shot and into a goal. This would be Hodgson’s 11th goal of the season, and the Sabres would be up 1-0.
Buffalo’s lead would end up being short lived.
Carolina’s young goal scorer Jeff Skinner showed off his talents, skating into the Sabres zone and shooting a nifty backhand at Jhonas Enroth. The puck beat Enroth, tying the game at 1. This was Skinner’s 22nd goal of the season, at 12:28.
As the first continued on, the Sabres appeared to let off as the Hurricanes got their legs under themselves.
Buffalo started the second period off fast and strong, just as they would want to against a fatigued Hurricanes squad.
It would take only 3:20, and the Sabres would find themselves on top again. A Phil Varone shot would trickle out of Anton Khudobin’s grasp, which was seen by Brian Flynn. It would be a gliding Flynn, from behind the net, who would tap home the goal. It would be Flynn’s 4th goal of the season, and the Sabres 2nd of the game.
On this goal, the assist would be an NHL first for a debuting Phil Varone.
“It was fun, it was exciting,” said Varone. “I was extremely nervous and felt like throwing up before the game. Felt like I had tunnel vision my first shift.”
As the period increased, so did the offensive pressure from Carolina. The Hurricanes’ pressure would come to a head when, on a delayed penalty, Alexander Semin would tuck the puck just under the crossbar. Semin’s 11th of the season tied things up at 2.
The third period would begin in almost a mirror of the second period for Buffalo.
Drew Stafford skated into the Sabres offensive zone, and put a shot right off the crossbar. Luckily for Buffalo, the puck ricocheted to the stick of Tyler Ennis. While this was happening, Anton Khudobin found himself out of position after trying to catch the original shot from Stafford. The result would be Ennis’ 11th goal of the season, putting Buffalo up 3-2.
The lead would last until Alexander Semin would tie things up at 3, courtesy of on an odd-angle shot at 7:25. This was Semin’s 12th goal of the season and 2nd of the game.
“I guess that’s what it was then,” Ott said when asked about losing Semin before the goal was scored. “I’ve gotta get back to work harder and grab that guy, you’re right.”
Things would continue to go downhill for the Sabres. Ex-Sabre defenseman Andrej Sekera took a booming shot from the point, and it went right through Jhonas Enroth’s five hole. This was Sekera’s 8th goal of the season, at 9:50, and Carolina’s 4th of the game.
Buffalo’s pressure would increase as the game grew in length, but they were unsuccessful on all attempts.
“That is what makes it more frustrating,” said Tyler Ennis. “We should have the energy, and they outplayed us in the third.”
At 19:59, Jiri Tlusty would close the game out with an empty net goal. This was Tlusty’s 8th of the season.
Buffalo would lose to Carolina, 5-3, and extend their winless streak to 5 games (0-3-2).
The Sabres play again Saturday night in Columbus against the Blue Jackets, who have won eight straight games.