The Buffalo Sabres had a hard time scoring goals for the first half of the season. They still are on a historically low pace for goal scoring. But, as of late, the team has been able to find the back of the net a few times and yet they still can't find a way to win games. They were on their way to their fifth straight 4-3 loss if not for a late empty net goal, the Buffalo Sabres squandered three separate leads on their way to their 29th regulation loss of the season. Who was the game winning goal scored by you ask? That would be none other than Andrej Sekera, his eighth of the season.
The first period saw a pair of goals that just seemed like déjà vu at opposite ends of the ice. Cody Hodgson got the scoring started at the 10:19 mark of the first period off a bad turnover from Jay Harrison. Hodgson took the turnover and fired a laser from the right faceoff circle that beat Anton Khudobin. Just two minutes later, Carolina's Jeff Skinner scored off a bad turnover from Alexander Sulzer. While the first period was anything but scintillating, the two teams did manage to combine for 25 total shots on goal
The second period seemed much like the first period. Both teams kept their offensive pace up through the period, but it still wasn't all that scintillating. Brian Flynn got the Sabres back in the lead three minutes into the period after cleaning up a rebound left behind from a Phil Varone shot. The Hurricanes tied the game off on an Alexander Semin shot with the extra attacker. The goal is Semin's 11th of the season, one that he just tucked under the crossbar and handcuffed Enroth. The Sabres finished the period with a two shot advantage over Carolina after outshooting them 11-8 in the period.
Buffalo came out of the gate pretty quickly to start the third period as Tyler Ennis continued his point streak for a sixth game. He was able to find an open net after the puck ricocheted off the crossbar from a Drew Stafford shot. That would be some of the only offense the Sabres could muster as they finished the period with only six shots on goal. The Hurricanes were the team that had more energy in the final period even after playing in Philadelphia the night before. Semin scored his second of the night on a tip-in from Eric Staal right in front of the net. 2:25 later. Sekera scored off a screen for the game winning goal.
Phil Varone's NHL Debut
While a random Thursday night game against the Hurricanes isn't going to send people jogging down memory lane, it will for forward Phil Varone. Varone made his NHL debut after playing 176 games with the Rochester Americans and was the first player in Sabres history to wear the number 84. He started on a line with Marcus Foligno and Brian Flynn and looked solid in his debut. In the second period, he also registered his first NHL point with an assist on the Brian Flynn goal
Varone was admittedly nervous before the game, "I felt like throwing up before the game." His final stat line was 10:36 of ice time, one assist, two shots, two hits, and three for five from the faceoff dot. He always seemed to be in the right place at the right time as he had two good chances to score a goal from right in the slot with one of those chances leading to the assist.
Two Sabres Make Returns
Two former Sabres made their regular season return to the First Niagara Center as Andrej Sekera and Nathan Gerbe both suited up for the Hurricanes. One night after making all of the highlight shows with a between the legs goal, Gerbe's game was relatively more subdued by the Sabres and Sekera was the one to create the fireworks with a goal and Two assists.
Sekera is having a really good season for the Hurricanes. The game winning goal was his eighth of the season. When he was a Sabre, Sekera only had 18 goals in 347 games. His final stat line for the game was 23:27 of ice time, one goal, two assists, and four shots on goal.