The Carolina Hurricanes scored plenty of goals on the power play tonight, scoring one of their own and adding two with the Sabres up a man. As the Sabres weren’t able to capitalize on any of their power play chances, the Hurricanes scored two short-handed goals on their way to a win over the Sabres, handing Buffalo their first loss of the season.
The Sabres had plenty of chances to score on the powerplay, and took all the shots they could throw (13) on Cam Ward during those chances, but Ward denied them every step of the way. The Sabres could not get anything by him.
Scoring started early at the First Niagara Center. Jordan Leopold fired a shot at the net. Thomas Vanek was able to deflect it and the puck trickled by Cam Ward to put the Sabres up 1-0. Carolina immediately came back, as Jay Harrison snapped a shot from the hashmarks and put one right by Ryan Miller to tie the game at one.
Less than two minutes later, the Sabres came roaring back. Drew Stafford fired a shot on Ward, only to be directed right toward the stick of a wide-open Derek Roy, making it 2-1 Buffalo.
Then trouble started.
Hurricanes defensman Bryan Allen came across center ice, and his shoulder met the head of Jason Pominville, who wasn’t carrying the puck. The crowd erupted into a chorus of boos as Jason Pominville sat at center ice trying to get up. Bryan Allen was handed only a two minute penalty for interference, and Pominville went off to the dressing room. The crowd continued its unison chant of boos.
Shortly after the power play began, the Hurricanes were able to capitalize on a missed pass by Thomas Vanek, as Brandon Sutter shot up the ice 2-on-1 to tie the game with the Hurricanes’ first shorthanded goal of the night.
The craziness didn’t end there. On a Sabres powerplay in the second period, Vanek sent a poor pass up the middle that was intercepted, leaving Christian Ehrhoff all alone to defend a 2-on-1 from Tim Brent and Jiri Tlusty. The former Leafs’ castoffs were able to take advantage of their opportunity, giving the Hurricanes their first lead of the game.
Carolina didn’t score on any more Sabres power plays, but they got plenty of chances to do so. Eric Staal had a breakaway that he failed to score on after Tyler Ennis fumbled the puck in the Sabres zone, with no defenders dropping back. Staal was left wide open, but Miller was able to make the big save.
Carolina sat back and allowed Buffalo to pressure them in the third period, yet nothing was happening. The Sabres generated 11 shots, many of which were lackluster. However, Drew Stafford was able to make something happen after Tyler Myers rushed to the net, as Cam Ward poke checked the puck away, leaving the puck back at the top of the crease for Stafford to backhand it under the Hurricanes’ goaltender.
The Sabres had the momentum going in their favor until Hurricanes defensman Tim Gleason got his legs stuck between the stick of Thomas Vanek as he was trying to go for a loose puck in the Carolina zone, earning Vanek a two-minute tripping penalty. Unfortunately, that penalty didn’t last the entire two minutes as 2011 Calder Trophy winner was able to rocket a one-timer past Ryan Miller to put the Hurricanes up for good with under two minutes to go in the 3rd period.
The Sabres pulled Miller with about a minute to go, generating a good amount of pressure in the Carolina zone, but that lasted about 30 seconds or so until Christian Ehrhoff had to get in the way of Eric Staal and an empty net, putting Ehrhoff in the box for the remainder of the game and killing any chance the Sabres had of tying the game in its dying seconds.
It was a good effort by the team, taking 42 shots on a stellar Cam Ward, who hadn’t been performing all that well up until the second period of tonight’s game. The Sabres lackluster special teams cost them a winnable game, and now, they hurry off to Pittsburgh to play the Penguins tomorrow after giving their all just to try to send the game to overtime tonight.
They almost succeeded, but Carolina did something the Sabres couldn’t do tonight: score on the power play.