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Sabres beat Canes in wildly entertaining affair

Feb 25, 2024; Buffalo, New York, USA; The Buffalo Sabres celebrate a shootout win over the Carolina Hurricanes at KeyBank Center. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports
Buffalo Sabres vs Carolina Hurricanes
Buffalo Sabres
Buffalo Sabres
Carolina Hurricanes
Carolina Hurricanes
Current Status: Final (Shootout)

Buffalo makes it three wins on the trot for the first time this season

Score: Buffalo Sabres 3-2 Carolina Hurricanes [SO]
Shots: BUF 32-32 CAR

Buffalo Sabres Goals: Skinner (19), Power (3) [Mittelstadt SO winner]
Carolina Hurricanes Goals: DeAngelo (3), Necas (18)

Minus 1: Going Behind Again

It’s just not a home game if the Buffalo Sabres don’t go behind in the first period. How many times have we watched that movie this season?

Fans had barely settled into their seats for the 6pm puck drop when the Canes were ahead under three minutes into the game, with third pairing defenseman Tony DeAngelo slotting home after a beautiful passing move from the visitors sliced the Sabres defense into ribbons.

The Sabres are now a measly 5-20-2 after giving up the first goal in a game, and this is a big reason why they will stay out of the post-season festivities.  

Plus 1: Resiliency on display

However, an inspired second period consisting of that utter rarity among rarities, a home power play goal, leveled matters for Buffalo and both sides went into the third period with the game on the line.

A Dylan Cozens slapper from the point had backup goaltender Spencer Martin in knots, and Jeff Skinner reacted quickest to tuck the puck home and make it 1-1 early in the second stanza.

Minus 2: Dahlin the Dynamo

When you have a player like Rasmus Dahlin on the roster, there are going to be pluses and minuses. The young defenseman (he is still only 23 years old!) leads from the forefront whenever he is on the ice. His willingness to drive at the opposing goal, desire for the puck no matter where he is, and intent to shoot whenever he even sees a glimmer of an opening is tempered by ability to lose the puck in dangerous situations and take unnecessary penalties at crucial times.

Last night was no different. The Swede went to the penalty box twice in the third period with the game level. First he barged into Jordan Martinook as he skated in on Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen, and the Sabres goalie was lucky not to get injured as the trio ended up in a melee in the Buffalo net. The penalty kill did very well to keep the Canes at bay during that two minute spell.

However, Dahlin committed an even more egregious error as he charged in on Martin with just over five minutes left in the game. This time the penalty kill was unable to keep the league’s third-best power play side out and Martin Necas chalked his 18th of the season just 42 seconds into their second power play.

Sabres down late 2-1 after giving up a goal during the power play and only a few minutes left to go. Again, we’ve watched this movie before, and know how it ends.. right?

Plus 2: Dahlin the Dynamo


As much as you want to give Dahlin grief for the turnovers and penalties he commits, he constantly reminds us about how good he is especially when you look a little deeper at the numbers. Let’s start with this one –

Rasmus Dahlin was on the ice for 45 shot attempts for in regulation time against the Canes.

Here’s another one.

Rasmus Dahlin has now played over 29 minutes in the last six Sabres games, the longest NHL streak since Erik Karlsson did so in seven consecutive games in 2016.

Don Granato has been leaning pretty heavily on the dman recently, with Dahlin ending the night with a season-high 31 minutes, 43 seconds on the ice.

Rasmus Dahlin leads the league in average time on ice since Jan. 1st with 26:46 a night, and is a +7 with 14 points in 20 games since then.

“He’s amazing. He’s never not giving you everything he has. He’s emptying the tank every shift, and that’s impressive and that’s what the rest of our crew and guys need to see. I think he’s a great role model for the entire group of how to play and give everything you have at a very highly competitive level. I mean, he is ultracompetitive. Physical and gritty and does it every single shift.”

– Don Granato

Plus 3: Return of Owen Power

Guess what though, it was the Sabres’ other #1 draft pick defenseman who ensured the Sabres would not leave KeyBank Center empty-handed last night.

After missing the last six games through injury, Owen Power returned to the lineup to offer a beleaguered defensive corps relief, and what a comeback it was. The lanky defenseman jumped up barely a minute after the Canes had taken a third period lead that had the crowd contemplating an early exit given that it was Sunday night and school vacation week was ending.

It wasn’t that long ago we had debated that Peyton Krebs had done his time on the fourth line and deserved some more ice time with more talented linemates. Guess what, Granato agreed with us and Krebs has been a bit of a revelation on the third line with Zach Benson and JJ Peterka. The Sabres have 61 percent of the shot attempts, 62 percent of the goals and 66 percent of the high-danger chances when that line is on the ice at five-on-five over the last five games (stat via The Athletic).

A torrid shift after Necas had scored saw the Sabres buzzing around the Canes goal, not letting the visitors play their way out of trouble and Krebs set up Power for a wrister from between the dots to even things up.

Final Thoughts

The playoffs remain a mirage, but watching the Sabres still putting their backs into it is both encouraging and frustrating. If only they had put in this kind of effort in about half a dozen more games earlier in the season and we’d be sitting in a much better position.

Buffalo has only extended a game into the shootout once before last night, which is pretty indicative of how quickly they have tended to fold when going behind in games this season.

Last night’s victory does mark a return to winning ways for Buffalo at home, and correcting that 13-16-1 will go a long way towards ensuring success next season.

Talking Points