Just two nights after an embarrasing loss in Pittsburgh the Buffalo Sabres did their best impression of a playoff team beating the Carolina Hurricanes 7-1 at the HSBC Arena. The Sabres were the more desperate team right from the beginning and went ahead 1-0 just 4:44 into the game on a goal by Daniel Paille. It was the third goal in two games for Paille who netted two on Wednesday. The Sabres really built the momentum just 26 seconds later on a goal by Adam Mair. It was memorable night for Mair who had a goal and two assists for his first multi point game of the season. Mair fought Tim Conboy in the third period to complete the Gordie Howe hat trick.
The desperation that was lacking on Wednesday was certainly evident tonight with Patrick Kaleta leading the way with four hits. Adam Mair and Steve Bernier added three hits apiece and also contributed on the score sheet as well. Paille had a goal and an assist while Bernier had two assists. The Sabres got scoring from unlikely sources like Mair, Kaleta and Paille who all had goals and they got physical play from unlikely sources as well. Ales Kotalik dropped the gloves with Matt Cullen but everyone jumped in before they could actually throw any punches.
The Hurricanes frustration was certainly evident in the third period as they amassed 65 penalty minutes in the third period. It all started just under five minutes into the third when John Grahame slashed Daniel Paille after making a save. It's not uncommon to see a play like that after a player crashes the net but Paille never touched Grahame before being slashed. It just continued on after that and really became an ugly scene with scuffles after every whistle. Conboy received a game misconduct and Eric Cole and Scott Walker eventually got 10 minute misconducts. Mike Weber and Patrick Kaleta received 10 minute misconducts for the Sabres.
For at least one night the Sabres looked like a team that is primed to make the playoffs. The strategy was to play aggressive and take the pressure off of the inexperienced defense and it worked better than anyone could have predicted. They will need to bring that same intensity tomorrow night at the Air Canada Centre against the surging Toronto Maple Leafs.
The Sabres struggled on the power play again tonight going just 1-for-9 with the advantage. The goal came in the third period from Ales Kotalik. It has been evident that the power play has been bad with the absence of Spacek and Connolly. It doesn't appear that Connolly will be in the lineup tomorrow night either.
The officiating had another questionable night allowing a lot of plays to go uncalled but calling others that didn't seem to be penalties. In addition it appeared that Patrick Kaleta may have interfered with John Grahame on his goal but it was allowed to count after being reviewed.