Sabres beat Canes to finish successful road swing

Posted on March 21, 2010 by Patrick Moran

Buffalo SabresAll the ingredients seemed in place for the Buffalo Sabres to take one on the chin early Sunday evening in Carolina.  The team was playing their fourth game in three nights, all on the road and playing their second in less than 24 hours.

Too boot they were facing a Hurricanes team that won 9 of their last 11 at home and have went 16-6-1 over their 23 overall to climb from the bottom of the Eastern Conference barrel to within a half dozen points of a playoff spot.

But the Sabres don’t make up excuses to lose and Sunday was no exception.  Buffalo flooded the Carolina net with five goals in the first two periods and went on to defeat the Hurricanes, 5-3 at the RBC Center.

Buffalo had to hold on, literally, for the win in the final period as a desperate Hurricanes squad rallied for two third period goals and were it not for Ryan Miller, it could’ve been more.   Carolina outshot Buffalo 13-2 in the final period and 30-20 for the game.

The third period cushion was afforded because the offense is firing on all cylinders.  After struggling so much offensively over the past month, Buffalo exploded for 14 goals in their last three games.

Are we suddenly looking at an offensive juggernaut?

Jochen Hecht scored twice, Tim Connolly scored a goal and assist while Tim Kennedy and Toni Lydman notched single tallies.

Thomas Vanek and Derek Roy each picked up a pair of assists.

The victory gave the Sabres a road win all three games during the 96 hour stretch.  Surely they’ll return home in a good mood.

Buffalo opened up their Northeast Division lead over Ottawa and Montreal to nine points.  The Sabres have 11 games remaining on the schedule and still have a game in hand over each foe.

Buffalo opened the scoring at 13:47 of the first on the power play.  With Joni Pitkanen in the penalty box for hitting Roy from behind, Roy took a slap shot from the point that Carolina goaltender Justin Peters got a piece of but couldn’t control the rebound and the puck ended on the waiting stick of Connolly, who poked it in for his 16th of the year.

Hecht made it 2-0 just 1:49 into the second period after taking the puck, beating  Jamie McBain on the right side and put a nice forehand past Peters.

Hecht scored again on the power play 2:41 later after faking a shot on the left side of the net and quickly taking the puck to the other side for a wraparound goal.

Hecht’s pair gave him 19 for the year and the German Olympian now has four goals in five games.

Lydman made it 4-0 at 8:45 of the second when he skated on a two on one with Vanek.   Lydman looked to pass but when Peters both cheated to Vanek, Lydman put a low wrist shot past him.

Peters was pulled for Marty Legace.

Carolina immediately scored  12 seconds later when Sergei Samsonov tipped a shot past Miller after Carolina won a faceoff.

Buffalo got their four goal lead back 2:14 later when Kennedy scored off a nicely executed three on two alongside Vanek and Roy.

Carolina made it 5-2 at 2:07 of the final period on a very rare mistake by Miller.  He played the puck towards the boards but didn’t see Brandon Sutter streaking in.  Sutter took the badly played puck and buried a quick backhander before Miller could get back into position.

With Adam Mair in the penalty box for four minutes following an undisciplined crosscheck penalty, Carolina pulled their goaltender with 3:30 left for a two man advantage.  It paid off with 3:00 left to play when Eric Staal scored to cut the lead to 5-3.

It was as close as the Hurricanes would get because Miller showed why he’s likely to win the Vezina Trophy following the season.  He made several difficult stops in the final three minutes.

The Sabres are off until Wednesday when they return to the HSBC Arena for a key matchup with the Canadiens. It’s the start of another three game in four nights swing, but the difference is this time they’ll all be at home.

Jason Pominville picked up assists on Buffalo’s first two goals and now has five goals and six assists in his last seven games… Tyler Myers assisted on Hecht’s first goal and has 31 on the season… Drew Stafford picked up an assist in his second game back after missing give with a groin injury…  Raffi Torres missed his second straight game with an upper body injury… The teams finished their four-game season series with two wins apiece.

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2 Comments on Sabres beat Canes to finish successful road swing

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