Yesterday, I wrote about my concerns of the Hurricanes first line experiencing some regression because they are currently producing at a ridiculous rate that is boosted by a high on-ice shooting percentage. these three continued to laugh in the face of even strength shooting regression last night by producing three goals en route to a 4-3 win over the Buffalo Sabre. To make me look even more foolish, all three goals they scored came at even strength which gives Eric Staal a share of the league lead in even strength points this season with 24. While I do believe the Law of Averages will kick in for these three eventually, it's hard not to enjoy what they are doing right now because it's been a long time sice the Hurricanes had a first line this powerful. It's not only just that they are producing a lot of chances on a nightly basis, but more of the fact that they seem to be a threat to score whenever they're out there. Part of that is due to high shooting percentages, but they are still a threat regardless.
As for tonight's game, the first line certainly came to play as Staal & Semin were on-ice for six of Carolina's 10 even strength chances, but the rest of the team wasn't at their best. Part of the reason for this is because the team had a two goal lead for most of the game and opted to sit back while the Sabres tried to mount a comeback. They ended up getting outshot 40-28 and outchanced 21-16, but the Sabres did most of their damage in the third period while playing catch-up. I thought the Hurricanes had control of the game while it was close and whenever the Sabres did get to within a goal, the Canes responded with one of their own.
This is the second game in a row where Carolina has been involved in a score-effects driven contest and ended up on the wrong end of the chance/shot ledger, but they were also playing with a big lead so it's nothing worth worrying about yet. Obviously I would rather have the Hurricanes play stronger with a lead rather than just sit back and simply try not to lose, but they managed to get the job done in the end. Let's see if their strategy changes if they get off to a similar start against Montreal or New Jersey in the next couple of games.