Hurricanes solve the shootout, best Sabres

Stempniak, Aho score, Ward makes two stops to earn extra time win

James Guillory—USA TODAY Sports

RALEIGH — For the second straight game, the Carolina Hurricanes had a third-period lead at home and couldn’t hold it. When their game Saturday against Buffalo also went to the shootout — where Carolina lost Friday — it seemed the Hurricanes might let another point in the standings slip away.This time, Lee Stempniak and Sebastian Aho each scored on their attempts, while Cam Ward made two straight stops to seal the extra point in a 2-1 win Saturday at PNC Arena.”You’re not going to win them all, I know that much,” coach Bill Peters said. “I don’t want to go to the shootout. I don’t want to go to overtime. I want to beat you 7-nothing. That’s what we try to do every game. We try to stomp, put our foot right on your throat, is what we really want to do.”Instead it was another tight game, and when Buffalo’s Evander Kane — who looked like the player of old all night — tipped in a Jake McCabe shot with 2:37 left to tie the game, the Hurricanes ended up tied again after regulation. Carolina (13-11-7) carried the play in overtime, with Jeff Skinner coming closest to scoring, but neither team could find the back of the net.Stempniak opened the shootout with a deke that left Sabres goalie Anders Nilsson sprawled out and fired the puck into the net to grab the early lead, then Ward stopped Sam Reinhart.”We’ve tried everything, or so it seems like,” Stempniak said. “So for us, if you get the first goal and then you get a save, it definitely puts the pressure on the other team.”After Aho scored on Carolina’s second attempt, Ward shut down Buffalo (12-11-7) phenom Jack Eichel to seal the win.”I told the boys I was overdue, which is the truth,” Ward said of winning in the shootout, where he is now 17-39 in his career. “I just kind of almost laughed it off. I just kind of said, ‘Just go out there and whatever happens, happens.'”Joakim Nordstrom, reunited with Jay McClement and Viktor Stalberg on the fourth line, got his third goal of the season for Carolina’s only goal.Brett Pesce flipped the puck into the Buffalo zone and Zach Bogosian — back from injury for his first game since Nov. 1 — couldn’t find the puck in his feet. McClement whacked the puck and it slid right to Nordstrom who scored to make it 1-0 at 14:04.”Nordy got us on the board early. They won a lot of shifts, they were good,” Peters said of his fourth line. “Anytime you can roll four lines on a back-to-back, that’s an advantage for sure. … Roles change within the course of the season, and how you adjust and accept those roles are important on a team. It’s not an individual sport.”Notes: Only one penalty was called in the game, a first-period hooking call on Johan Larsson. … Buffalo outshot Carolina 24-22, while the Hurricanes held the faceoff edge 28-19. … Aho played a career-high 20:55, the second time he broke the 20-minute mark in his NHL career. … Ward made 23 saves.