Marco Scandella and Jeff Skinner scored to erase a two-goal deficit in the last five minutes of regulation, but the salvaged point was of no consolation for the Buffalo Sabres following a 6-5 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes at KeyBank Center on Thursday night.
The Sabres and Hurricanes entered the contest tied with 58 points in the standings, three out of a playoff spot. The sentiment from the Sabres afterward was that the five goals they scored should have been enough to win, if not for more defensive miscues.
"You have to defend," Evan Rodrigues, who scored his sixth goal in eight games, said. "You're not going to win games giving up six goals. We're scoring enough to win. We're not defending. Simple as that.
"… We should win that game. We gave them easy ones, five easy ones."
Video: POSTGAME: Rodrigues
The Sabres outshot the Hurricanes, 39-30, but they were forced to erase deficits of 2-0, 3-2 and 5-3. Linus Ullmark was in net for all six goals allowed, but five of those goals were scored on unmanned shots from point-blank range.
Hurricanes defenseman Justin Faulk opened the scoring at 4:04 after pinching in the offensive zone and burying a backdoor one-timer. When the Sabres erased their 2-0 deficit with second-period goals from Rodrigues and Jason Pominville, Greg McKegg restored the Carolina lead with another backdoor tap-in.
Skinner tied the game in the third with the first of his two goals, an incredible individual effort while being draped by Faulk on the rush, but Brock McGinn was left alone in the slot to restore the Carolina lead feed from Jordan Martinook. Nino Niederreiter added a power-play goal with 5:02 remaining.
Video: CAR@BUF: Skinner finds twine with tremendous effort
Scandella and Skinner scored goals to earn the regulation point - both of which were made possible by perfect passes through traffic from Sam Reinhart - but a wide shot from Jack Eichel led to Teuvo Teravainen scoring his second goal of the game on a 2-on-1 rush with 1:35 remaining in overtime.
Video: CAR@BUF: Scandella quickly responds for Sabres
"It's a choice you got to make, protecting your own net, having a respect for it," Sabres coach Phil Housley said. "You look at the game, the five of the six goals come right in front of our own net. That's the one thing players from our opposition should be very wary of going into.
"Number one, we got to be tougher to play against. We got to start pushing guys out, boxing guys out, have a fear that if something gets into that area, there's not going to be the looks that this team had tonight."
The Sabres emphasized their checking detail as a key component to their early-season success. It's an area they've been working to restore as they try to right the ship on their season.
"I think we've all got to realize that we've got guys who are capable of making plays when we need to offensively," Reinhart said. "And with that being said, we need to have more respect for our own end. We need to all come back and pick up guys. If your shift calls for defending their guys, their top guys, that's what you're expected to do and we need more out of everyone in that regard."
"It's a mentality," Rodrigues added. "It's a will, it's a will to want to defend. If we want to make the playoffs, if we want to win games, that's what we have to do. There's no question about it. It's as simple as that."
The Sabres still have four games remaining on their current homestand. They'll get back to practice on Friday, then host Detroit and Winnipeg on Saturday and Sunday.
"We're in a position where we need to take every point we can get," Reinhart said. "We're not coming into games looking to get one point. That's a team we were tied with going into tonight and that's who we're fighting, so I think we need more fight from the start from a lot of people in this room and that's got to change very soon here."
Hockey is for Everyone
Video: Hockey Is For Everyone 2019
The Sabres hosted their annual Hockey is for Everyone Night, part of a league-wide initiative to promote the inclusion of players, coaches and fans of every race, religion, gender, sexual orientation and those with disabilities.
Players used Pride Tape on their sticks during warmups, which will be available on Sabres.com/Auctions from Feb. 8 at 5 p.m. to Feb. 17 at 9 p.m.
Sabres captain Jack Eichel welcomed groups that represent the Hockey is for Everyone philosophy, including the Buffalo Sabres Thunder Special Hockey Team, SABAH, the Buffalo Sabres Warriors Sled and Stand-Up Hockey Teams and Hasek's Heroes.
The work of Hasek's Heroes, a program started in 2001 by Sabres Hall of Famer Dominik Hasek to fund hockey education for underprivileged youth, was spotlighted in this video shown during intermission:
Video: How Hasek's Heroes has helped Faustin Ushindi
The homestand continues with a visit from the back-to-back afternoon games against the Detroit Red Wings and Winnipeg Jets on Saturday and Sunday. Tickets are still available for both contests.
Coverage on Saturday begins at 12:30 p.m. on MSG-B with the GMC Game Night pregame show, or you can listen live on WGR 550. The puck drops at 1.