The Buffalo Sabres and Carolina Hurricanes played last night in what was supposed to be a battle between two of the worst teams in the NHL, but by the end it looked like one terrible team playing against a playoff contender.
Yes, that's how bad the Buffalo Sabres are - they can make the 29th place team in the NHL look like a champ, as the Hurricanes used a dominant second period to help take the Sabres to school by a 5-2 margin.
The second period would prove to be Buffalo's undoing, as the Hurricanes scored four times - including three goals in 89 seconds - to grab a lead they would never relinquish. The Sabres were outshot 17-6 in the period, gave up a goal while defending a 5-on-3, gave up two more right after a timeout, and generally looked like the worst team in the league.
The lone bright spot for Buffalo was the play of Phil Varone. Varone was brought up from Rochester in place of Johan Larsson to provide a bit more offense, and the 24-year old delivered tonight, scoring his first two goals of the season and the only tallies on the Sabres scoresheet.
The team's other youngsters didn't fare quite so well, as Rasmus Ristolainen and Nikita Zadorov were a combined -5, while Girgensons and Grigorenko didn't register a single shot. Ted Nolan said after the game that he'll likely break up the Girgensons line for today's game against Tampa Bay.
The Sabres have now lost six in a row and are 1-8-1 in their last ten games. They're in third place in the McEichel standings, one point behind Carolina and four behind Edmonton.
1. Will the Sabres finally give a strong first period effort?
Buffalo's first period was much better than it's been recently, but that was only a result of the scoreboard reading 0-0 when it was all said and done. The Sabres were still outshot 10-5 in the first, didn't convert on one terrible power play, and generally looked worse than the Carolina Hurricanes, which is a hard thing to do.
2. Will either team score more than two goals?
The Hurricanes did, but the Sabres couldn't, mustering only 20 shots. The Sabres haven't scored more than two goals in six games, the last time happening on Dec. 27th.
3. Will Zemgus Girgensons' new rap anthem motivate him to new heights of greatness?
Nope - Girgensons registered just three hits in his 18 minutes of ice time.
Comment of the Game
A combo effort on the CotG sums up last night nicely.