Score: Hurricanes 5 | Sabres 3
Shots: CAR 33 | BUF 25
Sabres Goals: Jacob Bryson (1), Victor Olofsson (9), Rasmus Dahlin (7-PP)
Hurricanes Goals: Sebastian Aho (5, 6-PP, 7-EN), Martin Necas (7), Jesperi Kotkaniemi
Plus-1: Exciting First Period
An unlucky bounce off of a Hurricanes player proved to be in Buffalo’s favor as they were able to get on the scoreboard just 28 seconds after the opening faceoff. Following that quick goal by Jacob Bryson, the Sabres dominated in puck possession for much of the first period, especially the first half. The Canes are a hot team right now, deep in talent and speed, and it was likely not easy to maintain pressure in Carolina’s zone.
Though a turnover by Jack Quinn led to Carolina’s first goal later on, Victor Olofsson answered back to help the Sabres regain the lead. He is on quite the tear with an impressive 10 points on the season so far. Olofsson’s goal tonight makes him the seventh player in Sabres franchise history to score at least nine goals through the first 11 games - he is in good company with Danny Briere, Chris Drury, Danny Gare, Pat LaFontaine, Rick Martin, and Thomas Vanek.
Carolina eventually tied it up again at 2-2 on the powerplay, but the cherry on top of this flashy period was the scrum between Rasmus Dahlin and Hurricanes center Jesperi Kotkaniemi. Unfortunately for Buffalo, it drew a roughing penalty and the home team was back on the powerplay. It mattered not, though, as the horn sounded for the first intermission without further damage being done by either team.
Minus-1: Too Many Penalties
Not that tonight’s officiating was any good (how do you miss a blatant slash by Brent Burns on Dylan Cozens right in front of the net?!), the Sabres took too many careless penalties with a total of five - four of which were in the first period alone. It is difficult to gain momentum with the choppiness that being shorthanded brings and that was exacerbated against the Canes tonight.
Minus-2: Sabres Just Could Not Recover
Tonight was a very different game than Wednesday night’s against the Penguins when Buffalo dominated in the third period and dug themselves out of a scoring deficit. Frustration seemed to be the Sabres’ big problem tonight, which was reflected in their penalties and failure to capitalize in four of their powerplays (during which they only accumulated three shots). Buffalo was much better five-on-five and they never faltered in their effort, but it still was not enough at the end of 60 minutes.
It was just not Buffalo’s night tonight. Sebastian Aho had a hat trick. The Sabres’ defense struggled. Penalties hindered scoring opportunities and the Canes are just a really good team. Is there one silver lining to this loss? Yep. His name is Dahlin and he buried the puck with one second remaining in the game. While it did not change the outcome of the final score, it did extend his point streak to four games. He now has 15 points on the season.
The Sabres can take what went wrong in Raleigh tonight and turn it around against the Lightning tomorrow. Puck drop in Tampa is at 7:00 PM.
Tonight’s Three Stars:
1. Sebastian Aho (3G, 1A, +2)
2. Martin Necas (1G, 2A, +1)
3. Andrej Svechnikov (2A, +1)