BUFFALO, N.Y. – One spectacular save was enough to spark the Buffalo Sabres.
With Buffalo down 1-0, the game turned when Ryan Miller made a spectacular diving glove stop on a rebound attempt by Carolina captain Rod Brind’Amour from the left circle while the Hurricanes were short-handed late in the period.
The block proved to be the catalyst for the Sabres, who scored five times in the third period to keep the Hurricanes winless on the road with a 5-1 victory Saturday night.
“It was a wakeup call for us,” said forward Mike Grier, who started the third-period rally by banging home a rebound two minutes in. “It made us realize that, ‘Hey, we need to get going.”‘
Get going they did. The Sabres shrugged off their slow start to win their second straight after a four-game winless streak.
“That was probably the turning point of the game,” Brind’Amour said about being robbed by Miller. “If we go up 2-0, it’s a way different game. Right at the end of the period and short-handed, that would probably deflate them instead of giving them a big lift.”
It was the second straight night that the Hurricanes were unable to preserve a third-period lead. Atlanta erased a three-goal deficit Friday by scoring five goals in the final frame against Carolina in a 6-4 win.
Thomas Vanek, Derek Roy and Jochen Hecht had a goal and assist each, and Clarke MacArthur also scored for Buffalo (14-7-2).
The Sabres trudged through a sloppy second period in which they were slow to loose pucks, and consistently bottled up by Carolina’s forecheck. But Miller’s denial of Brind’Amour elevated the energy both on the ice and in the crowd.
After the save was replayed on the video screen a minute later, the fans gave Miller, who finished with 30 stops overall, a standing ovation.
“Even most guys on the bench got up and couldn’t believe it,” Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said. “I didn’t believe it until I saw him throw it out. That picks a team up, and it’s one of those real special saves.”
It’s been anything but special for the last-place Hurricanes (5-16-5), who remain the NHL’s lone team without a win away from home (0-10-3).
The last NHL team to open with 13 straight winless road games or more was the 2003-04 Columbus Blue Jackets, who started 0-11-2 with one tie away from home.
“It’s no fun here right now,” centre Eric Staal said. “Obviously, we’re fragile. That’s two games in a row where the third period comes around and we lose both. That’s the sign of a team that isn’t feeling it.”
Matt Cullen scored for Carolina, and Michael Leighton made 19 saves in his fourth start of the season, and first in nearly two weeks after sustaining a lower-body injury.
After Grier broke through, MacArthur followed by giving the Sabres their first lead, redirecting a pass on the power play from Roy at 4:33 to make it 2-1.
Roy made it 3-1 when he shovelled in a loose puck in the crease after Jason Pominville kicked it toward the net from the slot, and Hecht made it 4-1 with another power-play goal midway through the third.
Cullen opened the scoring at 8:19 of the first period, converting a turnover by Buffalo defenceman Tyler Myers at the Sabres’ blue line. Cullen went in and backhanded the puck past Miller.
The Sabres were without captain Craig Rivet (leg) and centre Paul Gaustad (knee), while Carolina played without defenceman Joni Pitkanen, who sustained an upper-body injury on Friday against Atlanta.
NOTES: The Sabres also were a without rugged forward Patrick Kaleta, suspended by the NHL for two games for a boarding major penalty against Philadelphia’s Jared Ross on Friday. … Myers added a career-high three assists. … The Hurricanes have lost five of their last eight after a 14-game winless streak.