Some will blame it on fatigue, moreover the fact that the Buffalo Sabres were playing their tenth game in fourteen days, but no matter what way you look at this game, it’s hard to get past the simple fact that Buffalo just couldn’t put the puck in the back of the net, and as a result were shutout 1-0 by the Carolina Hurricanes in a very physical contest.
You can make the argument that the Sabres probably played well enough to win, outshooting the ‘Canes 40-33, and racking up a significant amount of scoring chances in the process. However, the Sabres conceded early when the Hurricanes got on the board in the last minute of the 1st period. Brandon Sutter took a rebound around two defensemen and buried it behind Ryan Miller to give Carolina the lead and the first goal of the contest. It would also be the last one, as neither team was able to find the net in the 2nd or 3rd period.
Both teams were were ineffecient on the powerplay, the Sabres going 0 for 5 and the Hurricanes 0 for 7. Neither team is a stranger to poor PP performance, both in the bottom third in the league in percentage. In the second period, Sabres coach Lindy Ruff was forced to use his timeout to let Tyler Myers catch his breath during a long 4 on 4 shift, signaling early fatigue. The Sabres also failed to register any scoring chances in the second half of the third period, as they were visibly winded.
Carolina had lost four straight games – with their last win coming against Buffalo. Handing the Sabres another loss was effectively a four-point swing for Carolina, who now own the 9th spot in the Eastern Conference Standings, and at 74 points, trail Buffalo (76) by just 2 points. The loss means the Sabres swap spots in the East with the New York Rangers, who won their home game earlier tonight against the Islanders.
The Sabres are now 34-28-8 on the season and continue a 4-game home stretch in which they are so far 1-1-0 on Saturday night against the Atlanta Thrashers. The four days of rest that Buffalo will get from now until then is the longest rest the team has seen since early February.
Be sure to follow @Sentrix27 on Twitter for live tweets from HSBC Arena during Saturday’s game.