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HomeSportsHockeyNHL News: Hurricanes seek shot efficiency, host Sabres

NHL News: Hurricanes seek shot efficiency, host Sabres


The Carolina Hurricanes hope to turn a solid effort in a losing cause into a better result when they host the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday.

The Hurricanes are coming off a 5-4 overtime loss to the New York Islanders on Thursday. They outshot the Islanders 43-16 in the contest, including a 30-7 advantage in the second and third periods.

It was the second time in a week that they came out on the losing end after holding their opponent to fewer than 20 shots on goal. They allowed 14 in an 8-2 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Nov. 24.

“That was one of the better games that we played all year,” coach Rod Brind’Amour said. “We’re not going to play much better than that. (The goalies) know it. It’s tough. We’re going to give up some chances. They know they need to be better, but I loved the way we played. … We limited what they were doing.”

Pyotr Kochetkov has gotten the nod in goal in each of the past three games. It’s been a bit of a rough go so far this season for the 24-year-old, who is 3-4-1 with a 2.93 goals-against average and .878 save percentage after going 12-7-5 with a 2.44 goals-against average and .909 save percentage as a rookie last year.

It hasn’t been the smoothest of seasons either for tandem partner Antti Raanta, who hasn’t played since the drubbing against the Lightning. The 34-year-old is 6-3-0 thus far with a 3.47 goals-against average and .854 save percentage.

The Sabres, meanwhile, continue to struggle to string wins together.

After putting together one of their best efforts of the season at both ends of the ice Monday in a win against the New York Rangers, the Sabres’ self-inflicted wounds in the defensive zone were costly in a 6-4 loss to the St. Louis Blues on Thursday.

“I felt we were without question good enough offensively,” coach Don Granato said after the game. “I thought we created our own mess.”

Buffalo outshot St. Louis 46-20, its highest shot total of the season and the second straight game with over 35 shots after pumping 39 against the Rangers.

But goals against in the first period continue to be an issue. The Sabres have allowed 30 goals in the opening frame, which was tied for most in the NHL entering Friday’s schedule. They’ve given up multiple goals in the first period nine times, with at least three allowed on four occasions, including against the Blues.

Rookie Zach Benson continues to impress. The 18-year-old, selected by Buffalo at No. 13 in the 2023 NHL Draft, had a goal and an assist against St. Louis and now has seven points (two goals, five assists) in 13 games.

“He’s been great,” said forward Peyton Krebs, who was teammates with Benson with the former Winnipeg Ice of the WHL. “He’s tenacious around the puck, he’s a little bugger. He’s not afraid to get into a battle and I think that’s what’s so impressive about him. Ever since watching him when he was 15, you could see that he hunts pucks and I think that’s such an asset to him. And then he gets the puck, he makes a play. He has that smart hockey IQ. It’s special to watch.”

–Field Level Media

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