The Buffalo Sabres and Carolina Hurricanes continued their short tour of the upper-midwest on Wednesday night when the two teams faced one another at the Essar Centre in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. Though the Sabres climbed out of a 2-0 hole to tie the game, they eventually lost in a shootout, 3-2.
Hurricanes’ defenseman Roland McKeown gave his team the lead early, slapping the puck past Sabres’ goaltender Linus Ullmark less than five minutes into the first period. McKeown’s goal was actually the first shot of the game for either team, giving the Sault Ste. Marie fans what they paid for early on.
The Sabres’ sloppy play continued into the second period, as Elias Lindholm scored on a Carolina power-play. Former Blackhawk Teuvo Teravainen gave Lindholm a beautiful pass across the slot, allowing the 21-year-old Swede to increase the Carolina lead to 2-0.
Buffalo got on the board in the second, when Evander Kane scored his first goal of the preseason on a breakaway late in the period. Picking up an assist on the play was Derek Grant, who continues making his case for a roster spot.
The Sabres came out strong in the third, when Buffalonian Justin Bailey tied the game shortly into the period with a shorthanded goal. Bailey played OHL hockey for the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds, so scoring a goal for his hometown team in the arena in which he played junior hockey must have been a special experience for the 21-year-old. Neither team could find a game-winning goal in regulation, giving the fans at the Essar Centre some free hockey.
After a back and forth overtime period in which both teams killed off penalties, the game went into a shootout. Jeff Skinner potted the only goal, securing a 3-2 win for the Hurricanes.
Making his preseason debut for the Sabres was Ryan O’Reilly, who quickly left the game with a lower-body injury. Although there has been no official word on O’Reilly’s status, all signs point to the injury being nothing serious. Coach Bylsma said O’Reilly was held out of the rest of the game as a precautionary measure, adding “he tweaked something in a muscle.”
Jake McCabe played arguably his best game of the preseason, being the game’s defensive standout. Although he didn’t put up any points, he made life difficult for Carolina’s forwards all night.
Linus Ullmark played a solid game in goal for the Sabres, but will still likely start the season as the starting goaltender for the Rochester Americans. Although Ullmark has proven he can be a dependable goalie at the NHL level, the Sabres will likely give the back-up position to offseason acquisition Anders Nilsson, allowing Ullmark to gain more experience up the road in Rochester.
With their 3-2 loss against Carolina, the Sabres fell to 3-3 on the preseason, and will wrap up the preseason Friday night in Ottawa, a game in which many of the team’s starters will likely be playing. Buffalo opens the regular season on October 13th at home against the Montreal Canadiens.