RALEIGH, N.C. — Jeff Skinner scored in his first game against the Carolina Hurricanes since being traded, but the Buffalo Sabres lost 4-3 at PNC Arena on Friday.
Sebastian Aho scored twice, Micheal Ferland had a goal and two assists, and Curtis McElhinney made 30 saves for the Hurricanes (21-18-5), who have won six of their past seven games and defeated the Sabres for the seventh straight time.
“We were very fortunate,” Carolina coach Rod Brind’Amour said. “We didn’t play well at all, but we played better as the game went on. We played hard, but execution wasn’t good and we got a couple breaks.”
[WATCH: All Sabres vs. Hurricanes highlights]
Skinner scored his 30th goal of the season, and Carter Hutton made 26 saves for Buffalo (23-15-6), which is 3-6-1 in its past 10 games.
“It’s nice to contribute, get an early power-play one there,” said Skinner, who was traded for forward Cliff Pu and three draft picks Aug. 2. “We maybe gave them a few too many rushes than we should have.”
Skinner was among the four players who won the 2019 NHL All-Star Last Men In presented by adidas fan vote on Tuesday.
Carolina took a 1-0 lead on Ferland’s 13th goal of the season. The shot hit Hutton and bounced off the top of the net before Sabres defenseman Marco Scandella knocked the puck into the net off his stick.
“I just tried throwing it on net,” Ferland said. “I didn’t want to get it deflected. It was a good bounce.”
Skinner batted in a rebound at the top of the crease to make it 1-1 with 21 seconds left.
Justin Williams put the Hurricanes up 2-1 when he drove to the net and lifted a forehand shot on the short side at 4:30 of the second period. Williams has scored one goal in each of the past four games.
Jason Pominville answered with a one-timer from the high slot to make it 2-2 at 5:00.
“It’s always nice to contribute offensively, but honestly I’m more worried about trying to win and get to where we want to be,” Pominville said. “But it was nice to get rewarded.”
Aho gave the Hurricanes a 3-2 lead when his centering pass went in off the skate of Sabres defenseman Rasmus Dahlin at 5:42, then scored on a wraparound that deflected off Buffalo defenseman’s Jake McCabe‘s stick to make it 4-2 at 12:27.
“For me, for sure, that was a couple lucky ones,” Aho said. “Sometimes you get those bounces. That’s how it goes. It’s a good win.”
Pominville said, “Tough breaks, for sure, but to me we gave up too much. I think we’ve got to clean up defensively to win more games consistently. It was nice to see our fight-back.”
Kyle Okposo scored from low in the right circle at 16:48 of the third period to make it 4-3.
They said it
“There was a little bit of an adrenaline rush in the first period or so, then I sort of settled into the game. [The first-period video tribute] was cool. Obviously a lot of memories come back when you watch it. A couple guys on our bench were giving me a hard time. A lot of good memories. It sort of summarizes my time here, the way I feel. I had a good time as a player here and as a part of the community.” — Sabres forward Jeff Skinner on returning to Carolina after eight seasons with the Hurricanes
“Quite frankly, it’s embarrassing to be where we were (in the Eastern Conference standings). We expected to be a lot higher, but we’re making progress. That’s the important thing. But we can’t look at the standings yet. We just need to keep plodding along and banking points.” — Hurricanes captain Justin Williams on Carolina, which was 15-17-5 on Dec. 29 and trails Buffalo by five points for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference
Need to know
Pominville’s goal was his first in 19 games. He has scored 15 in 41 games against Carolina. … The Sabres last defeated the Hurricanes on March 22, 2016, a 3-2 home win. … McElhinney (11-5-1) won his fourth straight game (all starts). … Ferland’s three-point game was the first of his NHL career. He has played 287 games. … Williams has a six-game point streak (five goals, one assist).
Sabres: Host the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday (7 p.m. ET; MSG-B, SUN, NHL.TV)
Hurricanes: Host the Nashville Predators on Sunday (12:30 p.m. ET; FS-SE, FS-TN, NHL.TV)