Skip to main content


Hurricanes defeat Sabres with second-period surge

by Kurt Dusterberg /

RALEIGH, N.C. -- The Carolina Hurricanes have been searching for scoring all season. In the process, the individual goal droughts have been adding up.

After a 5-2 win against the Buffalo Sabres at PNC Arena on Thursday, a handful of players might rest a little more easily.

Carolina (13-24-4) scored three goals in a 79-second span of the second period for its third win in four games.

Eleven Hurricanes had at least one point in their second three-goal win of the season. Ryan Murphy, Jiri Tlusty and Justin Faulk each had two points, and Cam Ward made 18 saves for his 11th win.

"Sometimes you're looking for that bounce to get out of one of those slumps," said Jeff Skinner, who had a goal after going scoreless in his previous seven games. "It's nice for the confidence I think. You're sort of squeezing the stick, then you get an ugly goal or a lucky bounce and you sort of relax."

Skinner was the first to break out of a slump, scoring his ninth of the season 4:52 into the second period. He finished on the forehand after Alexander Semin made a spin move in the slot to get the puck to him.

"That's a great play," Skinner said. "He's got great vision. Him and [Riley] Nash were moving the puck well and we were getting in on the forecheck and making plays."

Buffalo (14-25-3) tied the game 59 seconds later after Carolina turned over the puck in the neutral zone. Chris Stewart sent a pass to Philip Varone, who cut through the slot and slipped a forehand to the far post. The goal was Varone's first of the season and second of his NHL career.

Carolina then scored three quick goals to take command. Skating 5-on-3, Tlusty set up in the slot and took a pass from Nathan Gerbe for a 2-1 lead at 13:50. The goal was Tlusty's first in 12 games.

Eric Staal made it 3-1 on a wraparound 53 seconds later for his fifth goal in six games. Staal's attempt went in front of goaltender Jhonas Enroth and deflected off the right skate of defenseman Mike Weber past Enroth.

"He's our best player. I'm not surprised," Ward said of Staal. "It was a matter of time. He makes everyone around him better when he's on top of his game. You can see he's getting that confidence, and when he's confident, he's one of the best."

Victor Rask gave the Hurricanes a 4-1 lead at 15:09 when he deflected Ron Hainsey's shot from the right point, ending a 15-game scoring drought.

Varone made it 4-2 at 8:17 of the third period, redirecting Tyson Strachan's high shot through Ward's legs. Nash countered for Carolina at 10:10, battling for a rebound above the crease after Faulk's shot. Nash had one goal in his previous 27 games.

"I thought our response to their second goal was important," Carolina coach Bill Peters said. "It kind of put a nail in the coffin and put the game away. The guys who needed to be on the board were."

That includes Staal, who has benefited from the return of his brother Jordan Staal. Since Jordan's return from a fractured fibula on Dec. 29, Eric has played on his brother's wing, and he attributes his scoring success to playing on the same line.

"We're a threat every time we're over the boards," Eric Staal said. "[Jordan] is a big, strong body. He controls pucks and opens up ice and makes my job a lot easier, as well as [Elias Lindholm's]. They're both puck-possession players that can make plays. When you're playing against top pairs and good lines, you have to have that."

The Sabres have lost a season-high six straight games, when they have been outscored 27-7. A holding penalty on Nicolas Deslauriers followed by Tyson Strachan's cross-checking minor 48 seconds later proved to be their undoing Thursday.

"It's different mistakes from different people every time," Buffalo coach Ted Nolan said. "We've got to be mentally sharp. We talked about it before the game. We've got to be alert, we've got be sure we're intense, we've got to bring some urgency. That didn't happen, and when it doesn't happen, you take bad penalties and the game's over."

Varone, playing in his 11th NHL game, was the bright spot for the Sabres. Nolan used that point to underscore Buffalo's troubles.

"Our top line, if they're not scoring, we don't have much scoring throughout," Nolan said. "Varone, just called up recently, he gets two of our goals tonight and he played a strong game for us. But you shouldn't rely on call-ups to get goals for you. You need production."

View More