RALEIGH, N.C. – The preseason is in the books.
The Sabres fell to the Carolina Hurricanes 1-0 at PNC Arena on Wednesday in their final exhibition game of the season. Buffalo opens the regular season Wednesday in Detroit.
Hurricanes forward Patrick Dwyer scored the game-winning goal 2:39 into the second period while shorthanded. Dwyer raced in down the left wing and capitalized on a wrist shot that went far side on Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller. Cam Ward recorded the shutout.
Miller made 29 saves on 30 shots. He turned aside all 17 shots he faced in the first period, smothering many of the chances, and doing his part to keep Buffalo in the game.
The Sabres ended up being outshot 30-18 in the game and had only seven attempts on net after two periods of play. Buffalo was outshot 22-7 going into the third.
Sabres defenseman Tyler Myers said that the team clearly did not get off to the start they wanted.
“As a group, we really didn’t like the way we played in the first and second periods. A positive we can take out of it, I thought we came back in the third and battled as hard as we could to tie it up,” Myers said. “But we have to be a 60-minute team if we want to be successful this year. We took 40 minutes off tonight. You can’t do that.”
Sabres coach Ron Rolston made a similar assessment.
“I thought we were a little flat tonight, especially the first period,” Rolston said. “We didn’t do what we needed to do on the road and I thought we picked it up for a little better third period, but we just didn’t have it.”
On five power play opportunities in the game, Buffalo recorded only two shots. It’s another area Myers said the team needs to improve in and can do so by not complicating things.
“I think we just have to focus on simplifying our PP, getting pucks to the net with bodies in front and just getting those garbage goals to kick things off,” he said. “I think we’re trying to be a little bit too pretty and when you want to put more PP goals in, you have to simplify things.”
The game featured many young players either battling for a roster spot or a chance to solidify his position in the lineup. Nineteen-year-old center Mikhail Grigorenko was the only Sabre to dress in all seven preseason games. He thought that getting the playing time in was very beneficial.
“I’m really happy the coaches gave me this chance to play all the games. I think it’s good for me because in the regular season, I’m going to need to play a lot of games,” Grigorenko said. “With playing more games, I’m kind of getting back to game shape. So I think it was a good thing and game to game, I think I was getting better.”
Buffalo did not get out of Raleigh unscathed. Rookie defenseman Nikita Zadorov, Buffalo’s second first-round selection in the 2013 NHL Draft, injured his hand while blocking a shot by Chris Terry during a penalty kill 1:40 into the third. He left for the dressing room soon after and did not return.
Rolston said after the game that Zadorov would need to be further evaluated.
Steve Ott served as captain during the game. Thomas Vanek and Christian Ehrhoff were the alternates. Rolston rotated the captaincy during the preseason and said after the game that he would probably name a full-time captain before Wednesday.
Rolston also alluded to the fact that they’d like to finalize their 23-man roster by Tuesday. The evaluation process will continue with another practice Saturday morning.