Quick Hits: Sabres vs. Hurricanes

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The Buffalo Sabres faced the Carolina Hurricanes for the final time this season on Tuesday night at PNC Arena in Raleigh, North Carolina. This may have very well been the last time Cam Ward faces the Sabres in a Hurricanes logo. As a rookie in 2006, it was the Eastern Conference Finals against Buffalo where Ward’s career really began.

It was not a fast-paced start, especially for the Sabres. They struggled to get much offense going, and the flow of the game was centered in the neutral zone.

With 7:38 left in the period, Carlo Colaiacovo ripped a slap shot from the point through traffic and past Cam Ward. It was his first goal as a member of the Sabres, and first goal since April 7 last season with the Philadelphia Flyers.

After the goal, it seemed to spark some offense. Chad Johnson made a great stop on Nathan Gerbe, and Ward came back with great saves on Evander Kane and Nic Deslauriers. Chances were few and far between however for the majority of the period. Shots were 8-8 at the end of the period.

In the second period, Buffalo failed to capitalize on 4-on-3 and 5-on-3 opportunities. Then a scrum involving Jeff Skinner and several Sabres, somehow resulted in no powerplays for either team. Skinner received a double-minor for roughing and a 10-minute misconduct.

With 7:50 to go in the second, the Hurricanes finally solved Chris Johnson with a Chris Terry goal.

Carolina outshot Buffalo 12-8 in the second period. The score was even at one heading into the third.

The third period is where we saw the majority of the games’ goals. The Hurricanes struck first with a goal by Joakim Nordstrom.

The Sabres stormed back in the final four minutes. They had more energy in the late stages than in the entire game. Evander Kane buried a beautiful set up by Ryan O’Reilly to tie the game with 3:49 to go in regulation.

Exactly one minute later, Johan Larsson one-timed a Brian Gionta pass to take the lead. The goals were Kane’s 20th, and Larsson’s seventh on the year.

Kane is the third Sabre this season to score 20 goals, joining Eichel and Reinhart. That is the most on the Sabres since the 2011-2012. Ryan O’Reilly is the next closest Sabre to the 20-goal mark at 17 goals.

Now the quick hits:

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  • Chad Johnson dominates the Canes

Chad Johnson has been insanely good against Carolina in his career. He is now 7-1, with a .930 save-percentage and 2.12 goals-against average. If he could play Carolina every game all year, he would probably win the Vezina Trophy.

  • Gionta-Larsson-Foligno continue to produce

Since the line was put together, it has been one of the most consistent lines for the Sabres in years.

This line’s production has been some of the best production seen since Stafford-Ennis-Foligno a few years back. Since the line was put together they have not only been a shut down line defensively, but they have contributed nine goals combined in the last 10 games.

That is a great pace for a third line.

  • Ryan O’Reilly doesn’t have to score to earn his money

Some have criticized O’Reilly because he has not scored since January 8th. Those people cite the fact that he is the highest paid player in franchise history. In that stretch, O’Reilly has 18 assists in 24 games.

Tonight was another example that he doesn’t have to score to be effective. O’Reilly played over 22-minutes of ice-time, and made a gorgeous backhand saucer pass to set up Kane’s game tying goal.

He is not going to be our best goal scorer, but he will be maybe our best all around player. O’Reilly has become our new Chris Drury.

  • Here comes Fasching

The Sabres signed Minnesota Golden Gophers star Hudson Fasching to a three-year entry level contract on Monday night. Part of the deal was that Fasching will play the rest of the season in Buffalo, burning the first year of his deal.

The power forward is a fun thing to see for fans down the stretch for these final nine games. It will be interesting to see if Dan Bylsma throws him on a top two line to start, similar to what he did with Justin Bailey.

Tim Murray traded for Fasching and Deslauriers, while giving up Brayden McNabb and two second round picks to the Los Angeles Kings. Fasching could make his debut Saturday against the Winnipeg Jets.

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Written by Joe DiBiase

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