BUFFALO - Following a wild third period that bred extra hockey, the Carolina Hurricanes defeated the Buffalo Sabres 5-4 in overtime to cap their season-long road trip with their second consecutive victory.
Justin Williams, Jordan Staal, Derek Ryan and Elias Lindholm tallied goals for the Hurricanes in regulation, while Jaccob Slavin scored to secure the extra point for the Canes in overtime.
Here are five takeaways from the road trip finale.
There was the 40 minutes of this game, and then there was the third period.
The Hurricanes and Sabres played a scoreless first and then traded goals in the second to bring a 1-1 game into the third. Then, in the first 8:14 of the final period in regulation, the two teams combined for six goals.
"It kind of seemed like there wasn't a whole lot of action going on," Ryan said. "It was just kind of a slow, choppy game. Not a lot going on through the first 40 minutes. All of a sudden, the game came alive and some goals were scored. Just a resilient effort from us. We battled through some sluggishness in the first 40 minutes coming off the jet lag, travel, long road trip - all the excuses in the book - but we were able to rally together and get it done."
"It opened up there both ways. We did a good job of finding a way," Staal said. "We found ways to get the W there."
So, let's dissect that third period.
The Sabres jumped out to an early 2-1 lead when Jake McCabe's shot found twine with Cam Ward taken out by the combination of Evander Kane and Justin Faulk - a play that was challenged by the Canes for goaltender interference but not overturned.
"We felt it on the bench. Once they scored that goal, we somehow got energized and found our legs and motivation," Ryan said. "Definitely huge character-building moments to show some resiliency, for sure."
"The bench was good," head coach Bill Peters said. "The guys were saying the right things and doing the right things."
The Canes then erupted for three straight to gain a two-goal advantage, 4-2.
Video: CAR@BUF: Staal bats puck of out midair for goal
First, it was a Slavin point shot resulting in a rebound that Staal smacked in out of midair. Then, Brett Pesce's point shot was redirected by Ryan in the slot. The Canes then converted in transition, as Sebastian Aho dished off to Ryan who faked and gave it off to Lindholm for the goal.
Video: CAR@BUF: Ryan deflects Pesce's shot by Johnson
"There was a little bit of a flurry there," Peters said. "The guys pushed it a little bit in the third and got the lead."
"That was good to see from the group," Staal said. "We've done that a few times on this trip, definitely showing some character of pushing through being down late, still continuing to play the game, finding ways to score goals and getting back in games."
Video: CAR@BUF: Lindholm scores off slick feed from Ryan
The Sabres - well, Eichel - answered back, as he scored twice within 10 seconds to finalize his first career hat trick and tie the game at four.
"I don't think we did a good enough job of defending, but they did a good job of creating some stuff," Staal said. "It just opened up a little bit."
"It was a huge roller coaster," Slavin said. "We had some offensive push in the third period, and so did they."
In overtime, two sequences at either end of the ice defined the game. At one end, Ward made an incredible toe save on Kane, who raced in on a breakaway.
"Wardo definitely bailed me out after I hooked my slapshot from underneath the dots," Staal said. "Wardo was good all game. He had some crappy bounces, but he played really well. He's got a bit of gamer in him; we needed a big save, and he made it."
"He's been standing on his head. When he can see it, he's been stopping it," Ryan said of Ward, who made 37 saves on 41 shots in his second straight victory. "Props to him. It's been fun playing in front of him."
Then, at the other end of the ice, Lindholm fed Slavin for the quick snap shot and game-winning goal.
Video: CAR@BUF: Slavin buries wrister for OT game-winner
"Just tried to hit the net," Slavin said with a smile. "We found a way to get the win in OT. We got the two points going home after a long road trip."
A common thread in a number of the goals scored tonight? Traffic in front of the net and rebounds. Williams' second period goal was scored on the rebound off a Staal shot. Eichel's first goal was scored on a puck that bounced off Kane in front and right to Eichel. The Canes' first two goals in the third period were scored via a rebound and then a deflection in the slot.
Video: CAR@BUF: Williams hammers home juicy rebound
"That's the NHL for the most part," Staal said. "A lot of point shots and scrums."
"It's kind of theme to scoring goals in the NHL," Ryan said. "If you want to score, go to the net and make sure you get your stick in the right place to get your stick on the puck or be a screen."
Six different players - Ryan, Staal, Williams, Aho, Lindholm and Slavin - tallied two points for the Canes tonight.
Collecting two points in two straight games to end the road trip gives the Hurricanes some life heading home. At 2-2-2 on the trip, the Canes collected six of a possible 12 points.
"We wanted to have a better trip than how we started. That being said, I thought we played some pretty good hockey in the first couple of games; we just didn't play a full 60 minutes," Ryan said. "[The wins are] huge for confidence and morale for the trip."
"It was frustrating for a little while there. I think the group knew we had better," Staal said. "We definitely came together, had a good chat and tried to get it back on track. Just get back to working. The guys, the last three or four games, have really just worked. Things have started moving in the right direction."
At long last, the Hurricanes return home, albeit briefly, to host the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday night.
"We've been on the road for 13 days? Wow. Let's get home then," Peters said. "Let's get home and suck it up. It's the way it is in the National Hockey League."