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Larsson ties game late, but Sabres fall to Hurricanes in OT

by Jourdon LaBarber @jourdonlabarber /

Johan Larsson scored with 40.1 seconds remaining to force overtime, but the Buffalo Sabres were unable to end their winless streak against the Carolina Hurricanes at KeyBank Center on Thursday. 

Dougie Hamilton netted the winning goal 2:28 into the extra period to clinch the 5-4 victory for the Hurricanes. The Sabres fell to 0-4-2 in their last six games with the loss, which coach Ralph Krueger traced back to the beginning of the contest. 

"I thought there's something to take with there as far as the fight and the resiliency down the stretch," Krueger said. "We're extremely disappointed with the loss today and I think we need to go further back in the game to understand why we didn't generate more in the first 30 minutes. That definitely is the root cause of the loss today."

Video: BUF Recap: Skinner records two points in OT loss

Jeff Skinner opened the scoring for the Sabres just 4:26 into the contest. The Hurricanes tied the game at the 12:46 mark on an odd goal from Jordan Staal, who lofted a shot over the shoulder of goaltender Carter Hutton from inside the faceoff circle after an initial attempt was blocked by Marco Scandella.

From that point, Krueger felt the Sabres went flat for some 20 minutes. Sebastian Aho scored a power-play goal with 2:43 remaining in the first period, then helped Teuvo Teravainen bury a feed from Andrei Svechnikov to make it 3-1 less than a minute into the second. 

In the meantime, the Sabres went 0-for-3 on the power play despite quality stretches of possession. 

"I think we could have had a better start but we drew three penalties, we spent six minutes on the PP, and then the second half of the game I thought we turned it around and I thought we, in my opinion, sort of carried the majority of the play," Skinner said. 

"That's the way the game goes. You're going to have stretches where you carry the play, you're going to have stretches where they carry the play. That's just the way the league is."


Krueger emphasized the importance of getting shots and bodies to the net to remedy the power play, which is 0-for-12 in the last five games after a red-hot start to the season. The Hurricanes, meanwhile, went 2-for-3 with the extra man. 
"Quite simply not enough shots," Krueger said. "We had so much control, we're looking for the perfect goal. We need to give up that mindset to get our confidence back to be able to make those seam kind of one-timer goals that we'd like to make and get something ugly going. 

"We're disappointed in our specialty teams today. We've spent the last few days working on that and speaking a lot about it. The PK and power play need to definitely pick up steam again quickly."

Still, the Sabres fought their way back at multiple junctures of the game. Curtis Lazar, making his Sabres debut in place of an injured Marcus Johansson, blocked a shot in the defensive zone and sped off for a breakaway goal that gave the team new life with 6:56 remaining in the second period. 

Video: POSTGAME: Krueger

Henri Jokiharju capitalized on a defensive-zone turnover by the Hurricanes to tie the game in the third. When Svechnikov scored on a power play to restore the Carolina lead, the Sabres pulled goalie Carter Hutton for an extra attacker and tied it again, this time on a Skinner shot that went in off Larsson at the net front. 

It was enough to earn a point, but hardly enough to satisfy a team looking to right the ship amid a challenging stretch. 

"We just keep working," Skinner said. "We lost in OT. We score a goal in OT, we're having a different conversation. That's the reality. We're here to get results. We didn't win today. We did a good job of fighting back. In every game, there's positives and there's negatives. 

"You have to tip the balance in that positive direction, and I think we haven't done a good enough job of sort of tipping the balance enough to come out on the right end. We just keep working on the good things on our game and tighten up some of the mistakes we make."


Lazar's debut

Lazar only appeared in one NHL game last season. He spent the rest of his time with AHL Stockton, where he rediscovered the offensive edge he had lost since coming into the NHL as a 19-year-old in 2014. 

He came to Buffalo looking for a chance to crack the lineup on opening night. When he was sent to Rochester at the end of a strong training camp, he maintained his upbeat attitude and scored nine points in 11 games for the Amerks. 

It paid off with his second-period goal, his first in the NHL since Feb. 15, 2018. 

Video: CAR@BUF: Lazar notches his first goal of the season

"That's part of my identity," Lazar said. "That's what I try to do and if it's running someone over with a hit or blocking a shot or putting the puck in the net or doing a combination, that's what I'm going to try to do."


Up next

The Sabres host the Ottawa Senators on Saturday. It will be Hockey Fights Cancer Night at KeyBank Center, hosted in partnership with Roswell Park Comprehensive Care Center.

Events will be hosted throughout the night in support of local cancer patients and their charitable organizations. Click here for more information. 

Can't make it downtown? Coverage on MSG begins at 6:30 p.m., or you can listen live on WGR 550. Puck drop is scheduled for 7.

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