The Buffalo Sabres established their physical presence and appeared to be in control for most of the game, but still fell to the Carolina Hurricanes by a score of 3-1.
Thomas Vanek opened the scoring in the third period with a power play goal, but Alexander Semin scored one of his own with the man advantage just minutes later. The Sabres eventually gave up the game winning goal to Jay Harrison after the Sabres took a couple of icing calls and were unable to win a defensive faceoff to clear the zone.
"I think we've seen some stuff that we're not happy with and are going to have to improve on," Sabres head coach Lindy Ruff said after the game. "I thought our power play was better tonight, we moved it better, got better posession. Faceoffs again, (the media) cursed me this morning by mentioning it, but the faceoff goal hurt us."
Vanek's power play goal was the lone goal for the Sabres, but he also hurt the team with penalties. Vanek was called for a slash in the first period and also received an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for arguing with the referee. He was also whistled for a cross checking penalty late in the game when the Sabres were putting heavy pressure on Carolina, which ultimately lead to the Hurricanes' empty net goal.
"Thomas is off to one hell of a start," Ruff said. "He's played awesome. The effort on the goal, and the shot was tremendous. The way they're calling the game, we have to adjust, as a team and as players. You can't let your frustrations overtake you. We need (Vanek) out there. We need him in there late. I know he didn't like the call early, but it's a call they showed and a call they're going to make, you know, anything to the hands now. Maybe a little quick to jump the gun with the unsportsmanlike, I don't know, I wasn't quite sure of that, but for the most part, up to this point, (Vanek's) done a pretty good job with the discipline."
The Sabres also got a fairly better game from defenseman Tyler Myers, however after he gave the puck away for an odd-man rush, Myers seemed to go into a shell.
"I'll give (Myers) an OK," Ruff said. "He gave up the 3-on-0 play. I thought some of his puck movement at times was good. I thought he jumped in and made some good plays. But some of his puck decisions again were not sharp and a lot of our offense comes from that fourth man joining or helping create and we're not getting a lot of great plays coming from the back end right now."
Ruff also stated that Mikhail Grigorenko was placed on the fourth line because he wanted a tougher matchup on Eric Staal, who burned the Sabres last night for three goals. Grigorenko played with Nathan Gerbe and John Scott for most of the game, while Jochen Hecht centered Steve Ott and Patrick Kaleta. Still, Grigorenko was limited to just one shift in the third period.
"The only reason I thought we had to try to slow down (Staal) and I thought for the most part, they did," Ruff said. "(Vanek) was missing for a little while and we dropped to three lines and I just felt that once he didn't play for a long period of time it wasn't really fair to stick him in the fire.I called him once in the third, and then recalled because I don't think it's fair to put (Grigorenko) in that spot."
Ruff also noted that Vanek was injured after hitting his back on the ice. He said that Vanek will rest for a day and see where he is at come Sunday.
The Sabres will have a day off before they travel to Washington to take on the Capitals on Sunday. That game will begin at 3 pm and will be aired on MSG.
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