The Buffalo Sabres love to play with fire, and so far this season, they haven't gotten burned too badly.
With a three-goal first period, Buffalo took a commanding lead, relinquished it in the second, and then blistered Carolina with four goals in the third to take the 7-4 victory at the RBC Center on Monday night. The Sabres have had their way with Carolina this season, posting a 3-0-0 record against the defending Stanley Cup Champions.
"You can expect that from Carolina," said Sabres head coach Lindy Ruff. "We had them down but we counted on them coming out hard [in the second period]. First 10 minutes of the second period, they took it to us really well, and they had us on the ropes a little bit.
"I fully expected this to be a tough one, and although we had a tremendous jump in the first period, you just had the sense that they were going to come back and you weren't going to be able to hold them off."
In a game where Teppo Numminen was breaking a major NHL record, Buffalo made franchise history with its 10th consecutive road win. The streak is the longest by any Sabres team.
Skating the very first shift of the game, Numminen surpassed Jari Kurri for most games played by a European-trained player with 1,252 and scored his 600th career point with a pair of assists. Both milestones were 18 seasons in the making for Numminen.
"It's amazing to see a guy like that come into back in the days when there wasn't a lot of European players in the league," said Adam Mair. "To survive that long, it's a great accomplishment. He's just a ceaseless professional."
Six different Sabres scored against the Hurricanes. Jochen Hecht led the group with two goals, Derek Roy notched a goal and two assists, while Thomas Vanek had a goal and an assist. Mair, Jason Pominville and Paul Gaustad each added individual tallies.
The goal was Mair's first of the season and it didn't go unnoticed by the coaching staff or teammates following the game.
"It was great for Adam to get that goal," said Ruff. "He's played really well recently and we're trying to get that Gaustad-Mair combination a little more ice time."
"It's huge for him," said Roy, who recorded the secondary assist on the goal. "He's had some chances and hit some crossbars and posts lately. This is big for his confidence."
Joked Mair: "If I would have missed that one ... I wouldn't have slept too well tonight."
Daniel Briere extended his points-scoring streak to nine games with a pair of assists, giving him 10 points - four goals and six assists - in that span. Martin Biron helped Buffalo move to a 15-1-1 record and remained undefeated in his sixth start this season with 31 saves.
"We've often said that their system mirrors ours," said Ruff. "The defense does a good job of getting into the rush, and if you are a little lax with the puck, you're staring at four guys going up ice. That makes it tough on the offensive players."
"We were a little mad at ourselves for letting them back in the game and we got our power play going in the third period," said Roy of Buffalo's second three-goal run. Buffalo finished three of eight with the man advantage, include two for two in the third."
Buffalo opened the scoring floodgates nearly halfway through the opening period.
Vanek snapped a wristshot over a downed Cam Ward, who finished with 27 saves, after receiving a great pass by Roy from the slot. Vanek slipped the puck just inside the left post for his 11th goal of the season and fifth on the man advantage at 8:57 of the first. Only Chris Drury has more power-play goals (six) than the second-year professional on the Sabres.
After the first official review of the night, Pominville was awarded Buffalo's second goal. Crashing the net, Pominville redirected Briere's pass with his skate past Ward to give Buffalo the 2-0 lead at 12:02 of the opening frame.
Hecht converted Dmitri Kalinin's rebound into Buffalo's third goal after he ripped it past Ward with a fierce wristshot with only 22 seconds remaining in the period.
An unintentional elbow is a forward's best friend or at least that's what Justin Williams found out in the second period. Crashing into Biron, Williams redirected the puck over the netminder's shoulder with a swing of his arm at 11:15 to give Carolina their first goal. The goal was reviewed and it was determined that Williams accidentally hit the puck to make the score 3-1 at 11:15.
Ray Whitney and Rod Brind'Amour converted a pair of rebounds into Carolina's second and third goals at 15:20 of the second period and 6:23 of the third to tie the game 3-3.
Right off a face-off win by Derek Roy, Mair scores his first goal of the season and Buffalo's fourth of the night. Cutting to the net, Mair one-timed a precision pass by Vanek through traffic over the right pad of Cam Ward at 7:09 of the third period.
A little confusion led to Buffalo's fifth goal at 11:07 of the third. Off a clearing attempt in Carolina's zone, the puck kicked into the air in front of the net and was lost in a mass of humanity. When it hit the ice, Roy chipped it over an unprepared Cam Ward for his third goal of the season to make the score 5-3.
Gaustad scores his third goal in as many games with a little garbage cleanup. Fighting his way to the front of the net, Gaustad converted the rebound from Dmitri Kalinin's point shot into Buffalo's six goal at 13:11.
Scott Walker's one-timer at 17:40 made the score 6-4 in favor of Buffalo, while Hecht added the empty netter with a minute left in regulation. ---------------------------------------------------------------------- Game Summary | Super Stats | Face-offs | Play-by-Play | Shift Chart ---------------------------------------------------------------------- Quotes courtesty of WGR 550-AM, the official radio partner of the Buffalo Sabres.