The Canes Start Their Road Trip with a Point But Lose 3-2 in a Shootout in Buffalo

Carolina concedes a late goal in the third period and can't find the game-winner in extra time as they fail to secure the second point against the Sabres.

Feb 25, 2024; Buffalo, New York, USA;  Carolina Hurricanes goaltender Spencer Martin (41) knocks the
Feb 25, 2024; Buffalo, New York, USA; Carolina Hurricanes goaltender Spencer Martin (41) knocks the / Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports
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It was a quick turnaround for the Carolina Hurricanes as they began a three-game road trip in Buffalo on Sunday night. Less than 24 hours prior, the Canes completed a three-game homestand with a tough 2-1 loss to the Dallas Stars. Now, the team trekked north to complete their season series with the Sabres, whom they'd beaten twice in Raleigh.

Spencer Martin took the net for the second half of the back-to-back, making his fourth start since being claimed off waivers before the All-Star Break. The rest of the lineup remained the same for the Hurricanes. Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen started for Buffalo, who also got Owen Power and Erik Johnson back from an injury and illness, respectively.

The start for the Hurricanes couldn't have been much better. After Spencer Martin made a great save on Tage Thompson at one end, the Drury line combined for a beautiful passing play to get the Canes on the board. Almost everyone on the line touched the puck, ending when Michael Bunting found Tony DeAngelo for the goal. DeAngelo looked like he'd fanned on the shot, but he got just enough of it to beat the goalie. Teuvo Teravainen nearly doubled the lead, but he couldn't beat the iron. The Sabres put together a solid period, but the Canes got through it, holding on to their 1-0 lead.

Buffalo played a much better second period, drawing even with the Canes on the power play early in the frame. Former Hurricane Jeff Skinner deflected a shot from the point by Dylan Cozens, and while Spencer Martin denied it, Skinner was there to pick up the rebound for an easy goal. They nearly took the lead a little later, but Martin made an excellent reactionary stop on Alex Tuch's redirection.

It feels like controversy and officiating issues have been following the Hurricanes recently. Along with the stark disparity in power plays since the All-Star Break, they might've had a goal taken away from them that should've counted. Teuvo Teravainen thought he'd scored the go-ahead goal in the period, but the play was emphatically blown dead by the referee for a hand pass on Jesperi Kotkaniemi. Upon closer examination of the play, the puck looks to make contact with Kotkaniemi's jersey but never with his glove. Since the play was stopped before Teravainen scored, the Canes weren't able to challenge the play, meaning the game would enter the third period tied 1-1.

Spencer Martin was put to the test to begin the third period, facing a barrage of shots from the Sabres. He made several stops before the Canes finally got their first power play of the night over seven minutes into the period. It didn't amount the anything, being easily killed by the Sabres. Rasmus Dahlin hit the crossbar, and he must've been so mad about it that he decided to run over Martin with 6:00 minutes left, giving the Canes another chance on the power play. This time, they'd convert. Martin Necas wound up and clapped a shot from the left dot past Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen to put the Canes back in front. The lead was short-lived as Owen Power scored 73 seconds later to knot things up, forcing the game to overtime.

Action in the extra five minutes was fast and furious. Both sides had great chances to win it, but arguably, none was better than Tage Thompson's breakaway chance against Spencer Martin. Having pulled off the same move against Chicago earlier in the week, Martin stuck his stick out to poke the puck away from Thompson, denying him a chance to win it. Nothing would be resolved in overtime, sending the game to a shootout. After the first five shooters all failed to score, Teuvo Teravainen stepped up in the bottom of the third. He did everything but score, beating the goalie clean but ringing the iron. Casey Mittelstadt beat Martin past the blocker, and Martin Necas was stopped as the Sabres took the extra point.

There will be a lot made of the Hurricanes losing in a shootout again, doing so for the fourth time in five tries this season. There are no shootouts in the playoffs, so let's slow our roll with those comments. This is a game the Canes should've won, and they did if you believe that Teuvo Teravainen's goal should've counted. On paper, this was a very even game. Both teams went 1-for-2 on the power play. They both finished with 32 shots, meaning each goalie stopped 30. Hits and blocked shots were relatively even. It came down to one shot in the shootout, and it didn't go the Canes' way.

Spencer Martin was phenomenal once again. For all of the struggles he faced in Columbus, he's fit in beautifully in Carolina. While he suffered his first loss as a Hurricane, he helped earn a point for the team with his 30-save performance. He and Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen were a fun battle to watch. Martin Necas helped pick up the slack offensively, factoring in on both goals, making him the only player with multiple points in the game.

The road trip continues through the Great Lakes, taking the Hurricanes to the State of Hockey on Tuesday night. This will complete the season series with the Minnesota Wild, who won in Raleigh behind a Kirill Kaprizov hat trick. They'll complete their trip in Columbus on Thursday, facing them for the second time this season.

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