Aho’s late goal lifts Hurricanes past Sabres
BUFFALO, N.Y. — Sebastian Aho is beginning to find his game. So are the Carolina Hurricanes.
Aho scored the go-ahead goal with 4:45 remaining to lead the Hurricanes to a 3-1 victory over the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday.
After Sabres defenseman Justin Falk, mishandled a bouncing puck, Aho grabbed the puck and raced toward the Buffalo net. Aho then beat Chad Johnson with a wrist shot for his third goal of the season.
It was Aho’s fourth point in the last three games for the Hurricanes, who have won four of six games following a four-game losing skid.
“Good finish,” Hurricanes coach Bill Peters said. “A few weeks ago that doesn’t go in for him and now it does and then we found a way to play properly from that point on.”
Justin Williams and Joakim Nordstrom also scored for Carolina (8-6-4).
“The Metro (Division) is really, really jammed and we’ve got to start getting ourselves on the other side of the line and pushing forward and seeing if we can get better,” Williams said. “This is a good step and now we need to start getting something rolling positive in our direction.”
Evander Kane scored for Buffalo (5-11-4). Johnson made 30 saves.
“I thought we got better as the game wore on and when you look at the game, it’s a 1-1 game late in the third period,” Sabres coach Phil Housley said. “We battled back into the game but we make a mistake and it ends up in our net. I think the bottom line is they took advantage of our mistakes and we didn’t take advantage of theirs.”
Williams opened the scoring with 5:14 remaining in the second. With a 2-on-1 opportunity, Williams faked a pass to his right before pausing and scoring on a wrist shot to the glove side. It was his third goal of the season.
Kane evened the score with 7:33 remaining.
After receiving a pass from Ryan O’Reilly inside the right circle, Kane’s low shot went between Darling’s legs for his 11th goal of the season.
Kane appeared to give Buffalo a 2-1 lead 10 seconds later but had a goal overturned after officials deemed he kicked the puck into the net. Kane was going hard to the net and kicked the puck after Darling initially made a pad save.
“I didn’t agree with it,” Kane said. “You go hard to the net. I was pretty self-conscious of not making a kicking motion or kicking the puck in the net. I thought part of my momentum drilled the puck into the net. I guess Toronto thought differently.”
Nordstrom added an empty-net goal with 40.9 seconds remaining.
The Sabres got off to an extremely slow start on their home ice. Buffalo didn’t record its first shot on goal until there was 2:36 remaining in the first period.
Scott Darling was terrific throughout for Carolina, making 24 saves. The goaltender’s best moment came on an exceptional save on Kyle Okposo with one minute remaining in the first. Darling goaltender dove to his left at the top of the crease for a sprawling stop.
“I just shut my eyes and dove over there so I was just happy it hit me,” Darling said. “It’s just pure desperation. Lose it, dive, (and) hope for the best. It worked this time.”
Darling also came up big with a slick breakaway save on Johan Larsson with five minutes remaining in the second.
One of Buffalo’s better chances came midway through the third period from point-blank range by Jack Eichel, but Eichel didn’t get all of the puck and Darling was able to make the save.
NOTES: LW Matt Moulson and D Casey Nelson were scratched for the Sabres. ... D Zach Bogosian (lower body) and D Rasmus Ristolainen (upper body) remain on injured reserve for Buffalo. ... D Klas Dahlbeck, RW Josh Jooris and RW Lee Stempniak were scratched for the Hurricanes. ... Stempniak, a Buffalo native, has missed 16 games with an upper-body injury and remains on injured reserve. ... This was the first of three meetings this season. Their next meeting is Dec. 15 in Buffalo. ... This was the 199th meeting between the teams.