The Carolina Hurricanes are back in the win column after a 6-2 dismantling of the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday, Dec. 4.
The Canes’ (16-6-1) win over the Sabres (8-13-3) snapped a three-game losing streak and a run of just three points in six games going back to Nov. 22’s overtime loss to the San Jose Sharks.
“It's nice that we got off of that losing kind of momentum that was kind of building,” said head coach Rod Brind’Amour. “... It was a good win. We needed it. Like I said, with all the guys getting it out tonight, that’s what I’m taking from this game.”
The victory was all the more impressive considering Carolina was missing two forwards, including one of its top scorers in right wing Andrei Svechnikov. Svechnikov was scratched for an upper-body injury and is considered day-to-day, while left wing Jordan Martinook remained out after suffering a lower-body injury against the Ottawa Senators on Dec. 2.
The Canes’ 11 remaining forwards stepped up however, combining for five goals and nine assists across the 60 minutes. Center Vincent Trocheck led the charge with three points including his first goal in eight games.
Trocheck earned his first point of the night by assisting center Martin Nečas in the first period, but Trocheck really started heating up in the second period. His second assist happened on a faceoff, beating Cody Eakin on the right-hand side of Buffalo’s net. Trocheck dished the puck to defenseman Ian Cole, who fired a bullet past Malcolm Subban to put the Canes up 3-1 and earn his first point as a Hurricane.
“It's great,” Cole said. “I think I've had some chances to score this season; some good shots and some good chances that haven't gone this far. But it's always good to score. Not my primary role, but I’ve said this before: I think everyone in the NHL nowadays has to be able to do everything. Defensive defenseman need to be able to jump in and add in the offense, just like offensive defensemen need to be able to play defense.”
Trocheck finally put his own name on the scoresheet shortly thereafter, pouncing on a loose puck in the opposing slot and finding twine to make it a three-goal lead for the Hurricanes with 15:52 left in the second period. Although the Canes held a firm grip on the game from then on, the on-ice action was far from over.
After right wing Nino Niederreiter stretched Carolina’s lead to 5-1, Trocheck received a five-minute major late in the second period for boarding Tage Thompson. The Sabres initially capitalized on the power play opportunity with a goal by Zemgus Girgensons with 26 seconds left in the second period, but a short-handed goal by left wing Teuvo Teräväinen early in the third period ensured that the Hurricanes maintained their four-goal lead.
Teräväinen opened the scoring action as well, putting himself on the scoresheet just over two minutes into the game. Center Sebastian Aho notched his 13th assist of the season on the opener with a nifty pass from the trapezoid to set up Teräväinen in the slot.
The pass 🤯The Finnish 🔥 pic.twitter.com/qy3Nb9U8dO— Carolina Hurricanes (@Canes) December 5, 2021
“It's always fun to play with him,” Teräväinen said. “We don't really think too much, we just read from each other and try to make some plays when there's space, and we got a couple of nice goals.”
Nečas kept the style going with a clever wraparound goal with just over seven minutes left in the first period. The goal needed a review to confirm that it did in fact cross the goal line but Nečas seemed pleased with his effort after viewing it on the jumbotron.
Goaltender Antti Raanta did his part in the win, making 32 saves to keep the Sabres out of striking distance.
“He was really good,” Brind’Amour said. “The save of the night, for me, was when we were up 2-1 and we turn it over. We give up a breakaway and he made two saves, actually, on it. If they tie it up, that's a different game. He was solid tonight. It was good for us; we needed it.”
The Canes will now enjoy two consecutive days of rest for the first time since mid-November before a road trip takes them north of the border to take on the Winnipeg Jets. Puck drop against the Jets is set for 8:00 p.m. ET.