The first pre-season game is in the books with the W going to most Hurricanes fans’ least favorite team, the Buffalo Sabres, who outscored the Canes 3-1 in front of a reportedly sold-out crowd at the First Niagara Center. There was no score as the horn sounded for the first intermission. Alternate captain Brandon Sutter ended the scoring drought 23 seconds into the second period with a backhander on netminder Drew MacIntyre.
Unfortunately this would be the only lead held by the young Canes team as Buffalo’s Paul Gaustad tied up the match 1-1, 47 seconds into the second period with a shot on Justin Peters who replaced Brian Boucher between the pipes. Gaustad was assisted by Patrick Kaleta who, after Nathan Gerbe’s game winner in the third, would go on to score an empty netter. On the offensive front, the night belonged to the trio with each member scoring a goal and a picking up an assist.
Chad LaRose anchored the top line for the Canes providing an assist with Zac Dalpe on the Sutter goal only to limp off with an injury as the remaining seconds ticked off the second period clock. Neither he nor Patrick Dwyer returned in the third with the team citing lower body injuries for both. Holding them out was said to be precautionary and no mention was made of whether they would be skating in practice on Tuesday or in the lineup against Nashville on Friday.
Even though it was a loss for the Canes, there was plenty of good to be found. In a post-game interview, Coach Paul Maurice said liked what he saw from all the defensemen and was pleased with how they picked up the penalty kill even though that was not something they had focused on. He attributed the issue with the forwards to “feet problems” saying that they stopped moving their feet and that is when they turned over pucks. He generally commented that there were lots of good things that happened in the first two periods and seemed pleased at the effort put forth by the squad, going so far as to say he hopes the skilled players back at home will play as hard as the kids.
One of those good things was a strong showing in net by Brian Boucher. Boosh stopped all 14 shots he faced and is starting to slowly gain the trust of the Caniac faithful that he will be a solid backup to Cam Ward. On the bad end, the Canes registered 21 shots to the Sabres 27, but were not able to get anything past tender Jhonas Enroth who was in net in the third period. Out of the Canes 21 shots, only three were registered in the third period.
Other players of note were Justin Faulk and Ryan Murphy who were praised for their speed. Even though Faulk took a turn in the box for tripping, the penalty was of no consequence as the Canes were able to kill off all five they received. No power play goals were scored by either side as the Sabres also killed 2 penalties. Tim Brent also had a strong showing in the face off circle winning 55% of his draws.
The Canes next take the ice this Friday in a matchup with the Nashville Predators. Head over to our sister site Predlines to learn more about their roster. Tickets are still available.
The season is young and the guys have plenty of time to regroup and come out stronger next time. Have any thoughts on the first look at the team? Leave us a comment. Follow Cardiac Cane news on Facebook and Twitter: @CardiacCaneFS, @Esbee92 & @Caniac176
Topics: Brandon Sutter, Brian Boucher, Buffalo Sabres, Cam Ward, Chad LaRose, Drew MacIntyre, Jhonas Enroth, Justin Faulk, Justin Peters, Nashville Predators, Nathan Gerbe, Patrick Dwyer, Patrick Kaleta, Paul Gaustad, Paul Maurice, Preseason, Ryan Murphy, Tim Brent, Zac Dalpe