Late-game heroics rescued the Sabres from enduring a consecutive regulation loss, and propelled to them to a thrilling 3-2 win over the Carolina Hurricanes in Raleigh, North Carolina.
After a gritty two periods played between the two teams, the Hurricanes began to seize momentum as the third period drew on. Carolina killed off a number of penalties—including a 4-minute double minor—and managed to take the lead on the scoreboard off a beautiful spin-o-rama goal by Joakim Nordstrom that even a Sabres fan would be able to appreciate. Just a few shifts later, Carolina nearly added to their lead on a breakaway, but Chad Johnson rebounded and stopped the scoring chance to keep his team in the game.
It wasn’t much longer until the cavalry arrived. With less than four minutes to play in the contest, Evander Kane tallied his 20th goal of the season and deadlocked the score at 2-2. Ryan O’Reilly took a pass from Sam Reinhart and stuck to the puck like glue behind the Carolina net, waiting for the chance to toss his own pass. When he did, it just as Kane began to approach the crease, and Kane smacked it past Carolina netminder Cam Ward.
Buffalo secured their victory exactly one minute later. A strong forecheck by Sabres captain Brian Gionta, and Johan Larsson foiled a Carolina attempt to clear the puck from their zone. Gionta fought for the puck along the boards before getting it to Larsson, who managed to find the back of the net and his seventh goal this year with a perfunctory shot.
The win gave Buffalo a sweep over the Carolina Hurricanes in the three-game series played between the two clubs. The Hurricanes, who have been chasing a playoff spot of late, now sit seven points out of a wildcard position after suffering their fifth loss in a row.
Earlier in the contest, Carlo Colaiacova earned his first goal this season with a rocket of a shot from the point that sped off the stick of a Carolina player and into the back of the net. Chris Terry tied the game at one goal-a-piece between the teams a little more than midway through the second period for his seventh tally this year.
The win was perhaps no more significant for any one Sabre than it was for Chad Johnson, who has now won six of his last seven starts. The victory gave Johnson his 18th on the year, which sets a new regular season record for the 29-year-old netminder. Johnson had previously recorded 17 wins with the Boston Bruins back in the 2013-2014 NHL season.
The Sabres have most of the week off now until they return to the ice for another matinee, this one taking place on Saturday against the Winnipeg Jets. That game will start at 1:00 PM EST from the First Niagara Center in downtown Buffalo.