With the Buffalo Sabres continuing to pick themselves off the mat and push for a playoff spot, the Carolina Hurricanes are simply looking to earn respect as they continue to play through the 2011-12 season.
With Ryan Miller and Cam Ward in goal, both teams could depend on their goaltenders to provide a strong effort in goal, and tonight, 60 minutes would not be enough to determine which would walk away with a win.
The sold-out crowd at First Niagara Center would find little to cheer for early, particularly when Carolina's Jaroslav Spacek scored off an early offensive zone faceoff, taking the puck from Jussi Jokinen after the forward won the draw, then hammering a shot past Miller from the point.
The Sabres began putting their fans back into the game with two first-period power play opportunities, building their momentum. Buffalo would then tie the game in the opening minute of the second period, when big-bodied defenseman Tyler Myers scored off of a three-man rush up the ice, chasing his own rebound. The Sabres got an unexpected boost after the goal when Jokinen was called for a slash off the ensuing faceoff.
With the Sabres power play moving around the Carolina zone, Christian Ehrhoff sent in a blast from the blue line. Ward made the initial kick save, but Thomas Vanek capitalized on the rebound, sending it home to give Buffalo their first lead of the game.
The lead, however, was relatively short lived. Just three minutes later, the Hurricanes skated up ice on an odd-man rush of their own. Chad LaRose drove to the net and redirected a hard shot from sophomore Jeff Skinner to tie the game once again.
Buffalo hammered Ward, racking up 40 shots by the end of regulation, but the former Conn Smythe winner answered the challenge, stopping every attempt. Miller received less work, but stopped a total of 22 shots on the way to OT.
A late penalty to Carolina's Bryan Allen put the Sabres on the power play to start the overtime period. Sabres captain Jason Pominville took a setup from Ehrhoff for the defenseman's second assist of the night, slapping it past Ward on Buffalo's 42nd shot of the game to capitalize on the 4-on-3 power play and win the game for the Sabres.