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Recap: Canes Blanked by Sabres in Hockeyville USA

by Michael Smith @MSmithCanes /

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→ The Carolina Hurricanes were shut out 2-0 by Robin Lehner and the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday night in Kraft Hockeyville USA.

→ Before we break down the game, first a note about Kraft Hockeyville USA. There was a tremendous atmosphere inside Lakeview Arena tonight, as a small-town stage was afforded the opportunity to host a national event. For lack of a better word, it was simply cool being able to bring NHL hockey to the people of Marquette, Michigan.

"It was a full barn. The fans were excited about it. … I had a lot of fun tonight," Jordan Staal said. "A lot of the guys grew up in rinks like this, including myself. For me, it brings back memories of growing up playing minor hockey. Seeing the amount of kids here, and I'm sure they're playing in this rink as well. It just brings back those good memories."

"Just a real good vibe around the city. Just outstanding. I thought Marquette did a great job, and the arena looked wonderful," head coach Bill Peters said. "It's fun to be a part of it. Our guys were talking about it. Most of our guys are small-town guys and grew up in rinks like this. They're the lifeline of a small community. This rink has meant a lot to this community, and now we have a little bit of history tied in with the Carolina Hurricanes."

Video: Deslauriers, Reinhart help Sabres top Hurricanes, 2-0

→ The Hurricanes have not scored a five-on-five goal since the second period of their game in Tampa Bay - the team's last victory of the preseason - on Sept. 27. It's been 10 periods and some change since then.

That isn't to suggest it's time to smash the panic button, because it's not; it's still the preseason, and the Hurricanes have varied their lineup quite a bit in the last few weeks. Even still, it's something the team will want to remedy in their final two exhibition contests.

"We're going to need everyone involved if we want to create scoring chances. When we do get those scoring chances we've got to find a way to bury them," Staal said. "We obviously haven't created enough through these exhibitions. There have been a lot of guys in and out of the lineup, but we're working towards it."

"If it continues tomorrow and whenever we play Washington, then it will concern me. Tonight, not so much," Peters said. "We were a bit thin offensively up front, a pretty young group. They looked like a young group trying to create offense."

→ The Hurricanes were indeed young up front. Staal, Joakim Nordstrom and Andrej Nestrasil comprised the team's top line, and after that the NHL experience was thin.

"We dressed a lot of young guys," Peters said. "We're coming down to a time in the preseason where we have to make some decisions, so we played a lot of kids who are on the bubble."

The Staal, Nordstrom and Nestrasil trio emerged last season as one of the Canes' most consistent lines. Tonight was their first in-game reunion since Nestrasil's February back injury.

"It's always good to get back with those guys," Staal said. "We were very close to connecting on quite a few small little plays. It just didn't quite work out. You can tell the holes were created and the plays were there. We just didn't execute. Hopefully that continues to get better and we start executing and creating more offense."

→ The Sabres bookended the second period with a pair of goals. First, it was Nicolas Deslauriers smacking in a loose puck in the slot to give his team the 1-0 lead. Then, late in the period, Sam Reinhart got a stick on Casey Nelson's point shot to redirect it past Cam Ward, padding the Sabres lead to two goals heading into the intermission.

"It definitely wasn't our best performance. We definitely didn't play our best throughout pretty much the whole game," Staal said. "We're going to learn from it and keep moving forward."

→ For the first time this preseason, the Hurricanes did not split goaltending duties. Cam Ward went the distance, and tomorrow night, look for Eddie Lack to play the full 60 minutes, Peters said.

→ This three-game exhibition road trip concludes on Wednesday night in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., where these same two teams will face off at Essar Centre, the home of the OHL's Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds.

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