In what ended up being Ryan Miller's final game in Buffalo, the Sabres goaltender put on a terrific performance to backstop his team to a 3-2 victory over the Hurricanes. Carolina did just about everything to try to beat Miller through the first 55 minutes of the game, outchancing Buffalo 26-9, getting traffic in front of the net and moving the puck around swiftly to create chances. Despite that, they only managed to get two past Miller and Buffalo was able to get a couple of soft goals past Cam Ward, making this game a lot more competitive than it should have been.
It's hard to say what more the Hurricanes could have done to win this game because they were doing enough to create chances and at least try to solve Miller. Sure, they could have done more on the power play but they still managed to create 26 chances despite that and against any other goalie, this may have been enough to win or at least earn a point. Hell, it almost earned them a point in this game but some terrible late-game management ruined that hope for Carolina.
The score was tied 2-2 with less than 90 seconds remaining and Muller elected to send out his fourth line of Drayson Bowman, Manny Malhotra & Radek Dvorak, a safe trio that is unlikely to burn their team with a huge defensive mistake. They didn't do that, but Bowman ended up making a very poor decision by dumping the puck into the far side despite having plenty of room to carry it in along the boards. It's a "safe" play that not many would criticize, but Bowman basically gave the Sabres possession of the puck when the game was on the line. While the Hurricanes wasted their time with the puck, Christian Ehrhoff of the Sabres went coast-to-coast, basically undetected by every Carolina forward and ended up banking a puck off Carolina defenseman Justin Faulk and into Carolina's net to seal a victory for the Sabres.
Going by the scoresheet and the shot clock, it doesn't look like the Hurricanes were playing for overtime and desperate for points, but that play made it look like they were and it ended up costing them in the end. Yes, the goal was fluky but the situation could have been avoided completely with some better puck management. Ironically, the "safe" play is what burned the Hurricanes in this game.
A game like this would be fine in October or November because you can at least say to yourself and the Hurricanes played well and should start to win more games if they keep it up. That is still true, but the Hurricanes spent most of October & November spinning their tires and need points now. They let at least one slip out of their hands and it's likely going to cost them any hope at the post-season, barring a miracle run to end the year. This loss coupled with the third period meltdown to the Jets before the Olympic break could likely be season killers.no comments