In a battle for ninth place in the Eastern Conference, the Hurricanes won a wild game that just seemed to take that latest layer of wildness and to it. The third period ultimately became a wild free for all that carried into overtime where the Hurricanes finally prevailed 6-5.

The Hurricanes started okay but were matched by the Sabres in a pretty even first period. The Hurricanes scored first late in the period when Justin Faulk fired a cross ice pass from Sebastian Aho into a half open net. But as the period wore on, the Sabres started to gain the upper hand. When the period ended, the Sabres were down 1-0 but had out-shot the Hurricanes 15-9 and were getting the better of the play. Just like in Pittsburgh on Tuesday, the difference was the stellar play of Curtis McElhinney.

The second period mostly continued on the same path. The Hurricanes continued to be loose defensively, but McElhinney continued to hold the fort, and Teuvo Teravainen found and buried a bouncing rebound in front of the net to stake the Hurricanes to a 2-0 lead. At the midway point of the second period, I said on Twitter:

On cue, the Sabres surged back after finally being rewarded for a long stretch of being the better team. After allowing nothing for rebounds early on, that small crack in the armor saw McElhinney beaten twice on rebounds. First, Evan Rodrigues banged in a third attempt. Then Jason Pominville scored on another rebound. Suddenly the hockey gods had stepped in and rewarded the Sabres for being the better team for most of the first two periods.

Then the third period was utterly wild. Fortunately, the third period saw the Sabres join the fun in terms of losing track players right in front of the net. Gregg McKegg went undetected at the far post and had enough time to first hit a post and then score when Trevor van Riemsdyk threaded the needle with a nifty pass. After Jeff Skinner won a one on one battle against Justin Faulk and scored a goal with Faulk draped over him, the Hurricanes again benefited from loose coverage. Some work behind the net from Andrei Svechnikov eventually saw the puck go to Jordan Martinook who found Brock McGinn right out in front for a tally and a 4-3 lead. When Nino Niederreiter scored on the power play to put the Hurricanes up 5-3 with only 5:02 remaining, the Hurricanes seemed to be on their way to an important win. But ‘iffy’ defensive play continued to plague the teams. Marco Scandella scored to make it 5-4 and then the Hurricanes defense somehow lost track of Jeff Skinner at the side of the net to tie the game at 5-5 with under a minute remaining to send the game into overtime.

The ending to regulation was disheartening. The Hurricanes blew a two-goal lead in the second half of the second period and then again in the waning minutes of the third period. But we are very much at that point in the season when results trump all else. So when Teuvo Teravainen scored his second goal of the game on a breakaway in overtime all was good…or at least good enough.

By no means was this a textbook win or something that the team would aim to repeat, but it was fun and it was two points. That is a good night.


Player and other Notes

1) Curtis McElhinney

McElhinney was every bit as good as he was in his shutout against Pittsburgh early in the game. As noted above, he seemed to eventually collapse under the pressure a bit when he started spitting out rebounds. But his five goals against are misleading on a night when the team in front of him was not very good for much of the game.


2) Teuvo Teravainen

The game-winner was clutch obviously. He led the way offensively with his other rebound goal and also an assist on Niederreiter’s goal. Seeing him lead the way offensively away from Aho is significant in that it gives the team more scoring balance that was elusive earlier in the season.


3) Jordan Martinook

He too had a big game offensively. He won the puck and put it on net for an assist on Teravainen’s first goal. And he put the puck right in McGinn’s wheelhouse for his goal. He continues to exceed all expectations offensively in addition to being one of the team’s spark plugs.


4)  Nino Niederreiter

He deserves credit for his skating ability and skill, but some of scoring is fairly simple. As I said on Twitter:

Niederreiter will inevitably cool off a bit, but I think the fact that going to the front of the net is first nature for him bodes well long-term.


Next up for the Hurricanes is a quick turnaround and a return to Madison Square Garden on Friday night.


Go Canes!

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