The merciful end to the nosedive to 30th will have to wait at least one more day as the Sabres edged the Hurricanes 4-3 in the season’s penultimate game at First Niagara Center.
Those who may be tied a little too much into the tank likely lost some hair as the Sabres jumped to a two-goal advantage after the first period and extended their lead to four after the second. Patrick Dwyer woke up the Hurricanes with a tally with just under 2:00 remaining in the middle frame and Carolina would carry that momentum into the third.
Alex Semin scored a beautiful goal just 2:31 into the third and Eric Staal made it mighty interesting with just over five to play. Buffalo managed to buckle down and preserved the one-goal win despite allowing 52 shots and 85 attempts.
Buffalo heads to Columbus on Friday with the magic number for 30th place locked in at two. The Coyotes could do us all a solid and win one more, but I hardly think that’s a realistic possibility.
- The game itself was pretty dry. Carolina threw 23 shots on goal in the first but nothing that was overly dangerous. In fact, they played a fairly sloppy game for most of the night only locking things down in the third period when they truly dominated. For a game with seven goals and over 75 shots, it wasn’t all that electric.
- Ted Nolan was complementary of Johan Larsson for again matching up with a solid opposing center (and line for that matter) as the Moulson-Larsson-Ennis line drew the Staal brothers for most of the night.
- It is amazing to see how much more visible Larsson is now that he isn’t left playing with scrap heap players. Nolan has been pretty bad with player deployment for most of the season and I’d have to say Larsson is a perfect example of that. I’m looking forward to seeing him get more quality minutes next season.
- Nolan confirmed that Mike Weber suffered a sports hernia which was somewhat surprising given the general level of secrecy that NHL coaches typically operate under. Of course, Weber won’t be returning this year, so Nolan didn’t have much to worry about in terms of showing his hand.
- Andre Benoit – who wound up winning the Carubba Collision for the hit that knocked him from the game – seemed like he might be a question mark for Friday, although it was hard to determine what Nolan was leaving out, if anything, about Benoit. I’d be curious to know if it will be Jake McCabe or perhaps Drew Bagnall getting the call, depending on the mood Tim Murray is in.
- The fans were very much on the Sabres side tonight. Either those who were pushing hard for the tank decided that everything was wrapped up or they simply stayed home as the “sell out” was anything but.