Winning goal by Gragnani in OT (Photo Credit: Chris Seward via N&O)

Slowly Sinking

Buffalo 2, Carolina 1 (OT)

Now we know how other teams feel when they face Cam Ward…complete and utter frustration. Rookie Jhonas Enroth made 35 saves against the determined Hurricanes Sunday night. Sound familiar?

Cam Ward swallowed 31 Buffalo pucks, which brings him to a season high of 2,281 stops. 173 of those saves have come in the past five games. These statistics illustrate two facts: 1) Cam Ward is our most valuable player, and 2) Canes defense is notably MIA at times.

The tables were turned on the Canes facing Ryan Miller’s substitute, Enroth, and it hurt. Carolina played an inconsistent, choppy first but managed to improve in the following rounds. Erik Cole and Tuomo Ruutu made some big hits. Ruutu and Jokinen were rattled in a collision, but both found their way back on the ice. Jeff Skinner showed off his disjointed, spin and shoot move a couple times, but was unable to get one past the rookie goalie. Yep, now we know how it feels.

Buffalo earned a penalty for this cheap play. (Photo Credit: Chris Seward via N&O)

A feeling the Hurricanes are familiar with is the inability to take advantage of power play opportunities. The Sabres were charged with a total of seven penalties, including a five-on-three lasting about a minute. Notta. Nothing. Zip. Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome back the pink elephant.

Eric Staal tied the contest in the second with his 33rd of the season. Bryan Allen and Chad LaRose were credited with the assist. A snap shot by Chris Butler in the first gave the Sabres the early lead.

Both teams were unable to find the back of the net in the third.

Overtime ended at 2:56 with Marc-Andre Gragnani’s first NHL goal. It may not have been a clean goal, but it got Buffalo the extra point.

“What appeared to be going wide got deflected off of something. I haven’t seen the replay of it and I’m not sure what it hit, but they got a lucky break,” Ward explains the winning shot.

So where does that leave Carolina? It leaves us treading water and slowing sinking. The Canes are two points behind the 8th seed Rangers. They trail 7th spot Buffalo by three points. The Hurricanes have three remaining games. You do the math.

Our bleeding boys face the Detroit Red Wings at home on Wednesday. The Red Wings currently hold second in the Western Conference standings with 102 points. They have gone 5-3-2 in their last ten contests.

The regular season wraps up against the Thrashers in Atlanta on Friday and Lightning at home on Saturday.

Tags: Buffalo Sabres Cam Ward Canes Carolina Hurricanes Eastern Conference Playoffs Eric Staal Erik Cole Jeff Skinner Jhonas Enroth Jussi Jokinen Marc-Andre Gragnani NHL Ryan Miller Tuomo Ruutu

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