For a moment at KeyBank Center on Saturday night, it seemed like Evander Kane may have willed the Buffalo Sabres toward a victory. Ten seconds after Kane had scored to erase a 1-0 deficit with 7:33 remaining, he crashed the net and again knocked the puck over the goal line, seemingly to give the Sabres a lead.
Instead, the goal was overturned when officials ruled that Kane had scored using a kicking motion, and the moment became a microcosm of the greater problem in an eventual 3-1 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes.
"It's a 1-1 game late in the third period," Sabres coach Phil Housley said. "We battled back in the game, but we make a mistake and it ends up in our net. I think the bottom line is they took advantage of our mistakes and we didn't take advantage of theirs."
Video: BUF Recap: Kane's goal not enough in 3-1 loss
Sebastian Aho scored the game-winning goal for Carolina with 5:15 remaining in regulation, followed by an empty-net tally from Joakim Nordstrom with 40.9 seconds on the clock. Justin Williams also scored a goal to put Carolina on the board late in the second period.
To Housley's point, the Sabres saw several chances of their own go unfulfilled throughout the night. Jordan Nolan and Johan Larsson were unable to convert on breakaways, while Kyle Okposo and Jack Eichel both saw point-blank opportunities stopped by Carolina goalie Scott Darling.
The Hurricanes, meanwhile, capitalized when given the opportunity. Williams scored after exiting the penalty box upon the conclusion of a Buffalo power play, carrying the puck on a 2-on-1 rush until he faked a pass across the net, stepped back and shot across the body of Sabres goalie Chad Johnson.
Aho's goal came after a puck bounced over defenseman Justin Falk's stick in the defensive zone, freeing the Carolina forward with a clear path to the net.
Johnson ended his night having allowed two goals on 32 shots.
"They flipped the puck," Falk said. "When I went to go pick it up it had landed and I thought it had settled enough to trust picking it up with my stick. Soon as I went to go for it, the puck went over. Bad break."
The loss marked the fourth time in five games that Sabres managed to score just one goal. Part of their struggles, Kane said, has been their inability to execute on scoring chances. The other part has been their lack of shots.
On Saturday, the Sabres didn't register a shot until Kane lofted a wrister on goal with 2:36 remaining in the first period.
"We've had our chances, but we definitely need to generate more offense," Kane said. "As a team, a lot of that has to do with execution, a lot of that has to do with taking the puck to the net instead of playing along the perimeter. I think we play along the perimeter way too much."
Housley also cited the fact that Carolina blocked 14 of Buffalo's shots as part of their problem generating offense. Fixing that, he said, will come from a willingness to shoot from everywhere in the offensive zone.
"To get more shots you've just got to get them through," he said. "We talked about being a shot mentality team and give them credit, they blocked a lot of shots. Our D have to do a better job of finding lanes and delivering pucks to the net. We have to shoot pucks form everywhere."
With the loss, the Sabres are now winless in their last five games at 0-3-2.
"It is testing my patience," Housley said. "I thought the last game in Detroit was really the end of my wick as far as being patient and making some adjustments and addressing that … I still feel that we're not all on the same page and we're going to continue to work on that."
Kane's odd night
Video: CAR@BUF: Kane beats Darling through the wickets
The lamp lit and the horn sounded to signal goals for Kane on three separate occasions on Saturday, but only once did it actually show on the scoreboard. The first instance came late in the first period, when Kane's shot appeared to have gone in but had actually fallen on the back of the net.
The third occasion, which would have been the go-ahead goal in the third period, was ruled to have gone in with a kicking motion.
"I didn't agree with it," Kane said. "You go hard to the net … I was pretty self-conscious of not making a kicking motion and kicking the puck in the net."
The goal Kane did score was his team-leading 11th of the season and gave him six points (4+2) in his last six games.
Hockey Fights Cancer
The Sabres took the ice for warmups wearing lavender jerseys to kick off Hockey Fights Cancer Night at KeyBank Center, held in conjunction with the Courage of Carly Fund at Roswell Park Cancer Institute as part of the NHL's annual initiative to spread awareness and raise money for cancer research.
The jerseys are available now at auctions.nhl.com, with all proceeds benefitting the Buffalo Sabres Foundation.
Marco Scandella and Hurricanes captain Justin Faulk welcomed Cameron MacDonald and 5-year-old Lucy to center ice for a ceremonial puck drop prior to the game. Learn about their battles with cancer in the video below:
Video: Hockey Fights Cancer Faceoff 2017
Members of the 11 Day Power Play, a group that set the world record for longest consecutive hockey game at HarborCenter and raised $1.2 million toward cancer research in the process this past summer, were also recognized as recipients of the One Buffalo Community Award.
Video: One Buffalo Award: 11 Day Power Play
Finally, click play on the videos below for Brian Duff's interview with Roswell Park Cancer Institute CEO Dr. Candace Johnson and Rob Ray's interview with Sabres play-by-play Rick Jeanneret.
Video: Dr. Candace Johnson Interview
Video: RJ on Hockey Fights Cancer Night
The Sabres continue their four-game homestand against the Columbus Blue Jackets at KeyBank Center on Tuesday night. It will be the second of three meetings between the two teams this season, with the Sabres having dropped the previous matchup 5-1 in Columbus on Oct. 25.
Coverage on Tuesday begins at 6:30 p.m. with GMC Gamenight on MSG-B, or you can listen live on WGR 550. Puck drop is scheduled for 7 p.m.