Tuesday was a completely different night from Saturday’s Eastern Final debut for the Carolina Hurricanes, built on fast skating and powerful hitting the Hurricanes took the play to Buffalo for the first time in the best of seven series, and for their hard work were rewarded with a 4-3 victory as they brought their series to even terms with the Sabres.
And while the score seems to reflect a rather close game, it actually was one dominated by the Canes for the most part of the night. Spurred on by two goals by Ray Whitney, the Canes were leading 4-1 going into the third period, before the Sabres mounted a slight comeback.
The key for Carolina this night was solving Ryan Miller, the Sabres goaltender let in a soft goal that eluded him after Justin Williams flipped a shot at the Sabre net from just inside the blue line. It was one of those goals you probably would wish you could have back and for Miller the hurt is doubled by the fact that it ended up being the winning goal on the night.
Carolina dodged a few bullets in their own end as well, Cam Ward doing his best to keep the Sabres off the scoreboard and Glen Wesley made an amazing save when he swept a Buffalo shot out of the goal area just before it crossed the goal line, a fraction of a second later and the Sabres would have had one more goal to count and who knows how the game would have turned out.
The Sabres described their night as sub par performance, with not much of an effort for the most part. Despite the close score on the board at the end of the game, the idea of a close fought game did not register too much in the Buffalo dressing room. Head coach Lindy Ruff suggested that a lot of his players did not have their heads on for the bulk of the game, such were the little mental mistakes that helped the Hurricanes along towards their first win of the series.
They have two days to get their game back on track and regain some of the momentum that they had taken from game one. Wednesday night, the Sabres return home to pick up the scent of the Stanley Cup with game number three in this best of seven Eastern final, with a fairly successful year at home, they will be eager to show their fans that Monday night was just a blip on the way to the Stanley Cup final.
They learned a pretty valuable lesson on Monday, the Hurricanes when on their game can out muscle and out skate a team for pretty close to sixty minutes, playing smart and taking advantage of opportunity when it comes your way is a major ingredient in taking a victory away from Carolina. Buffalo can’t afford to squander too many opportunities to take control of the series back, Wednesday night offers them the chance to get things back on track.