On Monday night, the Sabres came into town for what will thankfully be their last visit this regular season and they left with a 7-4 win. They remain perfect on the road, and have moved to 10-0-0 in that department.
In the first period, the Sabres dominated play en route to taking a 3-0 lead behind goals by Tomas Vanek, Jason Pominville and Jochen Hecht. Vanek's goal was a power play, and the others were even strength. Even when the Sabres were shorthanded in the first period, they still looked much sharper than the Canes. All three goals were the result of very hard work by the forwards on the forecheck and some aggressive net-crashing.
The second period was a different story altogether. The Canes came out looking much sharper, and took a page out of the Sabres book by attacking the goal very aggressively. They got a power play goal from Viva and an even strength marker from Ray Whitney. Heading into the room down 3-2, the Canes looked better and felt better about their play.
6:23 into the third, Rod Brind'Amour tied it up on another one of those net-crashing plays, and the air was let back into the building. However, the momentum would swing back to the visitors after Adam Mair scored just 46 seconds later. The Sabres would go on to get power play goals from Derek Roy and Paul Gaustad to make it 6-3.
Scotty Walker got a late marker to make it 6-4, but Jochen Hecht finished it off with an empty netter to make it 7-4.
Danny Briere had two assists, and was thus not "shut down". Not entirely, anyway.
Scott Walker had just the one goal and no assists.
Both ballsy predictions came up empty.
On a night that not much went well for the Canes, Chad LaRose looked great in his PK time, and continues to be a very hard working player. Also, Erik Cole continued to be an absolute monster. He had 8 hits in the game. However, he took two bad penalties. The elbowing penalty was just a stupid play, and although I didn't see the interference that he committed, it reeks of silly, selfish play. Mike Commodore played very very well. Not just defensively, but he did a great job of joining the offensive rush and creating scoring chances like that.
Buffalo was superb. They outworked Carolina for most of the game, and forced the Canes to take quite a few penalties. On the power play, they took advantage of their advantage.
The Sabres' Teppo Numminen became the longest tenured European born player, with 1,252 games played. The Finnish-born player actually spent one year (1977) playing youth hockey here in Greensboro North Carolina (story), surpassed his countryman Jari Kurri.
On his historic night, Numminen played very well defensively and added three assists.
The "official" three stars went to Rod Brind'Amour (third), Daniel Briere (second) and Derek Roy (first). Mine are quite different.
The RBH three stars:
Third Star Mike Commodore, CAR. 2 assists, 7 hits, +1
Second Star Derek Roy, BUF. 1 goal, 2 assists, GWG
First Star Teppo Numminen, BUF. 3 assists, +3, 1,252 NHL games
Up next, the Canes will take on Matt Cullen, Aaron Ward, Marek Malik, and the rest of the New York Rangers at the RBC Center on Wednesday night. Rumor has it, once this "home stand" is over, certain players will be placed on the official trading block. The most talked about are Avi Tanabe and John "Crackers" Grahame.
5 years ago