Hurricanes drop 2nd straight, lose 4-2 in Buffalo

The Sabres scored twice in the final eight minutes to beat Carolina

Hurricanes forward Max Domi checks Sabres defenseman Will Butcher during Buffalo's 4-2 win Tuesday. (Jeffrey T. Barnes / AP Photo)

The Hurricanes knew they had a schedule full of trap games remaining before the postseason. That didn’t stop them from falling into the pit that is the red-hot Buffalo Sabres.

Victor Olofsson had a goal and an assist in the third period to lift the Sabres over the Hurricanes 4-2 Tuesday in Buffalo.

“There’s no easy win, no easy team to play against, and they play hard,” Hurricanes forward Nino Niederreiter said. “We just took the game for granted and thought it was going to be an easy game, and that sure wasn’t the case.”

Defenseman Rasmus Dahlin set up Olofsson’s go-ahead goal with 7:42 remaining in the third period. Dahlin sent a stretch pass from the blue line to the left circle, where a wide-open Olofsson sniped a wrist shot to the far corner for his 16th goal.

Olofsson assisted on the insurance goal by Dylan Cozens, his 13th, on a power play with 4:49 left.

Niederreiter had tied it for the Hurricanes 4:10 into the third period. Jordan Staal threaded a pass from behind the net between two Sabres defenders to set up Niederreiter in the slot for his 22nd goal.

Buffalo went ahead 2-1 on goals from Jeff Skinner and Casey Mittelstadt early in the second period. Skinner, a former Hurricane, finished a 2-on-1 with Tage Thompson to score his 29th at 1:21, and Mittelstadt got his fourth goal 4:38 later on a wrist shot from the right circle that beat Frederick Andersen (18 saves).

Staal recorded his 600th NHL point on Fast’s goal that gave the Hurricanes the lead at 14:58 of the first. Carolina’s captain poked the puck away from Buffalo’s Cody Eakin in the offensive zone, and Niederreiter’s backhand pass found Jesper Fast alone in front of the net for his 12th goal.

Carolina came into the game sitting atop the Metropolitan Division and on the cusp of clinching an inevitable playoff berth, while Buffalo has been all but mathematically eliminated from the postseason.

“We’re facing teams that aren’t really in the hunt anymore, and they play a different type of hockey, Niederreiter said. “For us, we’ve just got to find a way to stick with it.”

The Sabres have now earned points in nine of their last 10, while the Hurricanes lost for their second straight game and are 4-5-3 in their last 12.

The result left the Hurricanes frustrated.

“We talked about playing the right way before the game, and as you see didn’t do that at all,” Fast said.

Carolina will get a chance at redemption: The Sabres visit PNC Arena on Thursday to complete a home-and-home against the Hurricanes and complete their season series.

“That’s nice to get another crack at it,” Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour said of a rematch with the Sabres. “It’s probably less about the opponent and more about us trying to regain that game that we want to play, that 60-minute game.”

Notes: Sebastian Aho and Teuvo Teravainen saw their seven-game point streaks snapped. … Sabres forward Kyle Okposo played his 900th career game. … Carolina changed up their look for the road game, wearing their white road sweaters with black plants instead of the usual red pants.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.