Rod Brind’Amour said after the loss to the Islanders two nights earlier that he was very pleased with the effort on the ice. Yes, there were a couple of costly turnovers and a couple of marshmallow goals, but the dominance certainly did not justify the end OT result. He is, of course, right; when you attempt 96 shots compared to 40 and lose the game, the math just doesn’t make sense. So his coaching words were: keep doing what you’re doing, and the results will come. And come they did, as the game against Buffalo was a complete game by every player, led by Sebastian Aho’s 2 goals.
Aho, Drury Lead Canes To Strong Start
After Jordan Staal won the opening faceoff, drawing the puck back to Brett Pesce, Pesce crossed the red line, and then sent the puck deep. Jesper Fast justified his nickname as the Sabres defenseman got the puck behind his own net. Quickie forechecked the puck loose, then, after another defender got the puck, Jordan Martinook was all over him. Staal jumped into the fray and passed up to Brady Skjei, who rimmed the puck to Quickie along the far high corner. Another centering attempt to Staal, who got a shot off just as he was checked, marked the first shot of the game.
The Sabres got a weak shot initially but followed up with a flurry that resembled how every player on the ice is trying to score on the goalie from 12” off the post, with Pyotr Kochetkov keeping the game scoreless. Seth Jarvis, along with Fishy, had a great defensive shift along with forechecking that again kept the puck in the Sabres end. The next shift had the Canes’ 4th line on the ice, continuing the aggressive forechecking behind the net.
Just as the whistle blew, Stefan Noesen and Rasmus Dahlin got tangled, with neither letting up. Noesen would say he was only ‘responding’ to a shot by Dahlin, so the two tangoed. Just as the linesman separated the two, Dahlin gave a shot, and turned his back when Noesen sent the All-Star to the ice, earning him an extra two minutes.
The Canes successfully killed off the extra time and frankly looked very strong on the penalty kill. Late in the period, Jaccob Slavin lifted the puck high into the neutral zone just before the Sabres blue line. Jarvy was first to the puck, faked going deep, but did a button hook towards the half boards, looked up, making a sweet-looking drop pass to Fishy just as he entered the O-zone. Fishy took one stride, had no D-man within 8’, looked up, and picked a corner, sending the puck high glove side from about 32’ out. Just over a minute later, Jalen Chatfield left the puck for speedster Martin Necas behind Kooch. Necas raced up the right side 200’, skated behind the Sabres net, feeding Jack Drury camped out at the right side of the blue crease. Drury one-timed a wrister that Eric Comrie blocked with his right shoulder, with the puck going right back to Drury, who changed locations to the high glove side for his second consecutive game with a goal.
Aho, Teravainen, Noesen All Have Goals Off Great Feeds
The second-period start was a gift as talented Alex Tuch got called for interference on Skjei. Fishy won the ensuing faceoff, with Andrei Svechnikov taking control of the puck, and passing up to Brent Burns. Burns kept the puck moving as he passed over to Teuvo Teravainen on the right side, who quickly took a shot that hit a body, ricocheting wide. Svech was fast on the puck, calmly circling, then passed up to Burns. On a set play, Burns eyed right but passed back to Svech, who made a crisp centering pass as Fishy was backing up in the slot, who sniped his second of the game with just 13 seconds gone on the powerplay.
A few minutes later, Drury won a draw to Kooch’s left. Once again, the ‘high loft out of the zone’ expert, Slavin, lofted the puck from the far corner right to the Sabres blue line. Necas was barreling down on Eric Johnson just as he was about to catch the puck, but Johnson fumbled the catch, allowing Necas a breakaway down Broadway. In the most unselfish play of the game, Necas saw Comrie flat on the ice and knew or heard Noesen calling from behind, laid a beautiful drop pass that Noesen slammed into the back of the net for a commanding 4-0 lead.
Late in the period, the Canes were on their second powerplay and passing at will. Jarvy had the puck halfway to the corner, saw Fishy in the low slot, and made a hard pass hoping Fishy could complete the hat trick. The puck skated by, with Burns grabbing it within an inch of going over the blue line, looked up, saw Turbo covered in the low post, and instead passed to Svech along the far half boards. Svech quickly surveyed the ice, wasted no time, sent a pass very few would attempt, crossed ice 60’ away with 4 bodies in between, right to Turbo’s stick, who with little emotion sent it high glove side for his 11th of the year.
The Sabres got on the board early in the third on what might have been defense blamed on the score. The Sabres had the puck behind their goal and cleared the puck to center ice in front of the penalty box to Tuch. Casey Mittelstadt had speed going through mid-ice, getting a soft pass from Tuch. Dmitry Orlov was flat-footed along the blue line and rather than take a penalty, tried a weak obstruction that Mittlestadt easily went around.
Then, being all alone, he had Kooch dead to rights to get the Sabres on the board. The Canes were on the penalty kill 4 minutes later when Turbo won an offensive zone draw, sending the puck back to Skjei, who quickly wristed a hard shot high glove side (yes, a trend) for another shortie. The last score of the game had all coaches holding their breath. Necas took a shot from the right point that Peyton Krebs blocked off his shin pads, with the puck bouncing hard into the neutral zone.
Without wasting a nanosecond, Krebs took the puck directly to the Canes goal. Kooch initially thought he’d have a play for the puck but continued to skate through the slot, flopping down just as Krebs was thinking of shooting, blocking the puck to the near corner. With Kooch on the ice, Chatty had to jump over Kooch, landing in the blue paint, and falling into the net. Krebs grabbed the loose puck, saw Tyson Yost unchecked on the corner of the crease, and fed a low hard pass that Yost easily tipped in to close the scoring.
Drury just missed a Gordie Howe hat trick as he took exception to a needless hard hit by Connor Clifton on Necas along the boards, with both Clifton and Drury getting 5-minute majors for 12 seconds of shirt pulling. A solid team game by every player, the powerplay went 2-for-2, PK went 5-for-5, 11 players got at least 1 point, and 71 total shots while limiting the Sabres to just 39. The next home game is on December 15 against Nashville. Be there!