The story of this game was the play of the Sabres special teams. The Sabres power play was three for eight heading into this game and didn't convert on six of their chances and gave up two shorthanded goals. The Sabres couldn't generate much all game on the power play and with the Sabres down one goal in the third period they fumbled away two key power plays. The Sabres penalty kill had killed off the first five powerplays that Carolina had, but couldn't kill off the most important one, the one that led to the game winning goal.
Thomas Vanek had probably the worst game of the night even though he scored the opening goal. He was directly apart of the two shorthanded goals, With the first shorthanded goal, the puck hopped over his stick and Brandon Sutter beat him to the puck. In the second, he was shoved off the puck which led to the odd-man breakaway. The cherry on top of the sundae as the tripping penalty after Drew Stafford's game tying goal that eventually led to Jeff Skinner's game winning goal.
As to be expected, coach Lindy Ruff was not thrilled with the way that his team played, especially on the powerplay:
"We had some really good opportunities on the power play that we didn't put away, but then we pushed too hard in some situations that we didn't need to push and when a defenseman is getting involved in the play, even when they are shorthanded, you still need support. We went with that all out gamble, players didn't support each other and we gave up some situations that we can't give up."
For the Sabres, Ryan Miller made 30 saves on 34 shots and while he made some saves to keep his team in the game as long as he could, he couldn't come up with the final save when it counted. Derek Roy, Drew Stafford, and Thomas Vanek each scored for the Sabres while Tim Brent, Jay Harrison, Brandon Sutter, and Jeff Skinner scored for the Hurricanes. Cam Ward made 39 saves in the winning effort and was pleased with his team's efforts to close out the game, their second win in as many games:
"I liked the way that we responded, especially when we got scored against. It seemed like we were able to respond and have an answer for all those goals against. It's great to see the power play cash in on that last in in the final two minutes."
The turning point for the game seemed to come with two minutes left in the first period, when Bryan Allen had a blindside hit on Jason Pominville. Pominville briefly left the game but was cleared to return in the second period. The wind had seemed to come out of the sails though because less than a minute later the Hurricanes took the lead on with their first shorthanded goal. A rather grainy version of the hit is below:
The league will probably take a look at the play again but since Allen got what appears mainly body, there is no Rule 48 application to it.
The Sabres will turn around and try to put that game behind them as they will face off against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday night at Consol Energy Center.