The Sabres took on the Carolina Hurricanes in their second game in two nights to start their southeast December road trip. While the team was able to pick up momentum in the third period with a late game-tying goal by Evander Kane, they would ultimately fall 2-1 in a shootout.
Anders Nilsson was fantastic, keeping the Sabres alive in what was a boring and uncoordinated effort from his teammates. Nilsson faced 22 shots, six of which came in overtime, where he was a brick wall in net, thwarting several prime scoring opportunities for the Hurricanes.
Both teams played an exceptionally sloppy game, with neither side generating much on offense. It wasn’t until the third period that the contest finally opened up, allowing both teams an opportunity to run away with a win.
Carolina took a very early lead on a missed assignment from blue-liners Zach Bogosian and Dmitry Kulikov, allowing Joakim Nordstrom a wide open shot directly in front of the net. Bogosian played his first game since November 1st and while he did appear rusty early on, he was able to impose his physical style of play late in the game, which helped shift momentum and allow his team to force extra minutes. The second period was a snooze-fest as neither team was able to generate anything in the offensive zone.
Johan Larsson registered the only penalty of the night when he got nabbed for hooking in the first period. The officiating crew missed several calls early on, including two high-sticks absorbed by Josh Gorges and Jack Eichel in the first period.
Despite the lack of scoring production from both squads, the goaltenders were fantastic when called upon. Cam Ward was a mere 2:37 away from a shutout when Evander Kane tipped in a deflection off of a Jake McCabe wrist shot from the point. Leading up to the goal, the Sabres maintained excellent pressure in the Carolina zone.
Though the Sabres took the momentum into overtime, Carolina controlled play in the extra period. The shootout struggles continues for Buffalo as Nilsson allowed both shots against him while Sam Reinhart and Jack Eichel were respectively shut down by Ward at the other end.
This game was indicative of the type of Jekyll-Hyde Sabres team that we have witnessed this season. This team has the capability to dominate one night and look absolutely lost the following game. Such was the case again tonight.
On the plus side, the 16-17′ Sabres unit reminds viewers of the squad from the 05-06′ season that could never be counted out of a game. Several times this season, the Sabres have taken a deficit into the third period and were able to come back and either win or force overtime.
Buffalo now sits 13th in the Eastern Conference, though they are a mere four points back of the Bruins, who currently hold the third playoff spot in the Atlantic Division.
The Sabres take on the Florida Panthers on Tuesday night at the BB&T Center. Faceoff is at 7:30pm.