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Good stuff. Carolina has to be given a slight edge. The teams took turns controlling the pace for two minute increments, but Carolina dominated the shots on goal statistic. After 20 minutes, Carolina has taken 10 shots and Buffalo just one.
Ryan Miller has been great. He's made probably three highlight reel saves. One on an Erik Cole one-timer, one on a Ray Whitney attempt from the low slot, and one on a Justin Williams wrap chance.
If the rest of the game is like this, I wouldn't mind a loss. Of course a win would be much better.
Just one penalty so far, which is mildly surprising given that Captain Hairspray is the charge official.
1:21. Jason Pominville stuffed in a rebound from close range. Jochen Hecht and
2:52. Chris Drury attempted a wrap around, then backhanded the rebound in.
I really don't like the way Crackers is handling rebounds. Buffalo has also shown that it's not so much about quantity of shots as it is quality.
The Canes mounted a shorthanded rush, and after an unsuccessful shot, Maxim Afenogenov checked Viva into the boards a little rough. A little extra stuff with hands to the face, but nothing all that bad. The two squared off, and there wasn't much of a fight as Afenogenov threw Williams down. Brind'Amour was upset, in case you're wondering, because after both linesman intervened and Williams was down and out, Maxi kept throwing punches. The only penalties were to each player for fighting.
16:18. Tomas Vanek set a beautiful screen in front of Grahame, which ultimately allowed him to give the Sabres the field goal lead. The intitial shot from the right circle (and the primary assist) was Jaro Spacek. The second helper was to Derek Roy.
Once again, Carolina registered 10 shots, but Ryan Miller answered the bell every time. He fumbled with one, but a heads up play by a Sabres defenseman prevented Eric Belanger from getting to a loose puck with an open net.
John Grahame is really struggling with his rebounds. Too many of them are going right to the doorstep, where the Sabres are able to capitalize.
It's never too late, but I'm just about ready to start drafting my "Danny Briere is kool" post.
Carolina continued to get a bunch of shots on net, but every single time Ryan Miller was on point. His rebound control was excellent, and his defense was great in front of him. The few rebounds that Miller allowed were kicked out to the corners or were handled by the defense. Carolina wasn't getting any of the second chances that Buffalo got and took advantage of.
18:51. Carolina stunned me by avoiding the shutout. CrAdams potted a shorthander from above the right circle. Miller got a pad on it, but it snuck through him. Chad "Sharpie" LaRose and Rod Brind'Amour had the assists.
19:18. During the same Sabres power play, Erik Cole caught up to a breaking away Ales Kotalik, and hooked him. Unfortunately, the referees determined that the criteria were met for a penalty shot. It was the first in Kotalik's career, and he made good on it. He came straight down broadway and at the very last second, made a subtle move to the backhand and beat Grahame like that. Technically speaking, it was a power play goal.
Ryan Miller was far and away the best player on the ice tonight, and it's tough to discern the remaining two stars. "Officially", they were Paul Gaustad (third) and Tomas Vanek (second). The way I see it is only slightly different. The RBH three stars:
Third Star Tomas Vanek, BUF. goal
Second Star Jason Pominville, BUF. goal
First Star Ryan Miller, BUF. 29 saves
For one period, Carolina was good. For one they were bad. For one they were about even. The bad one cost them.
Ray Whitney saw a five game point streak end, and Justin Williams saw an eight game point streak end. Eric Staal looked terrible.
Although the Canes TV announcers think otherwise, I think it's pretty clear that Carolina can't run with Buffalo. They won't have time to cry into their Stanley Cup either. They've got to fly home and play the NHL best Ducks, who are already in Raleigh waiting. Even with injuries to both goaltenders and three other players, the Ducks are a juggernaut, and a well rested one. The Flyers, who are busy snapping their 10-game losing streak, will also be in Raleigh waiting for the Canes.
I guess I better get to finding ways to compliment Daniel Briere.