RALEIGH, N.C. — After seven straight losses, the Buffalo Sabres finally solved the riddle of the Florida Panthers last week with a victory in KeyBank Center. The Sabres now have to unlock a similar key to beating the Carolina Hurricanes.

It’s seven losses and counting for Buffalo against the Hurricanes, who scored three goals in the second period and held on for a 4-3 win Friday night that spoiled Jeff Skinner’s homecoming to PNC Arena.

Sebastian Aho scored twice for Carolina, which got three goals that deflected past Sabres goalie Carter Hutton off Buffalo defensemen. The Sabres are 0-5-2 against the Canes since last beating them on March 22, 2016.

Playing his first game in Carolina after being traded by the Hurricanes to Buffalo in August, Skinner became the Sabres’ first 30-goal scorer in seven years with a power-play tally late in the first period. But that was one of the few highlights for the Sabres (23-15-6), who have now gone nearly a month without winning two in a row.

The Sabres are 4-6-2 in their last 12 games and things are really spiraling on the road — where they have lost four straight and are 1-6-2 on their last nine. After starting the year 8-4-1 away from KeyBank Center, Buffalo’s road record is now 9-10-3.

Weird Bounce I: Michael Ferland gave Carolina a 1-0 lead at 10:25 of the first period when Marco Scandella knocked a puck out of midair into his own net. Ferland’s shot was flubbed by Hutton’s glove, floated in the air and landed on top of the net before bouncing off. Scandella was trying to sweep it away but missed his swipe and knocked the puck in.

Getting even: Skinner connected in mid-air and put the puck in the right net with 20.7 seconds left in the first to get the Sabres even at 1-1. His 30th of the year was a bunt of a Rasmus Dahlin rebound eight seconds after Buffalo went on the power play.

Spirit of 30: Skinner became Buffalo’s first 30-goal man since Jason Pominville in 2011-12, and was the sixth-fastest in team history to 30. He was the fastest (44 games) since Pat LaFontaine did it in 42 games in 1993.

All-Star nod, 30th goal makes Skinner’s night even finer in Carolina

Quick strikes: Justin Williams beat Hutton bar down at 4:30 of the second, Pominville tied the game at 2-2 with a one-timed slapshot at 5:00 and Aho put Carolina back in front, 3-2, at 5:42. That was three goals in 72 seconds.

Weird Bounce II: The Aho goal came on a backhand from behind the goal line that deflected off Dahlin’s left skate and got past Hutton.

Pommer Power: Pominville’s goal was his 10th in the season and first in 18 games — since he scored the game winner in the final two minutes Nov. 17 at Minnesota.

Weird Bounce III: Aho got another lucky bounce for his second of the game at 12:27 of the middle period. With Hutton scrambling in the crease trying to find the puck, Aho’s pass to the front went off Jake McCabe’s stick and through Hutton’s legs.

Weird Bounce IV: Kyle Okposo got the Sabres within a goal with 3:12 left by sending the puck in front — and having it bounce home off Carolina defenseman Saku Mäenalanen.

Up Next: It’s a quick turnaround for the Sabres, who flew home and will host the league-leading Tampa Bay Lightning Saturday night at 7 in KeyBank Center. Tampa Bay is a white-hot 17-1-1 in its last 19 games and beat Carolina, 3-1, on Thursday night. That will be the Sabres’ last home game until Feb. 1. The next five games will be on the road, three before the All-Star break in Western Canada.

Sabres Notebook: Lightning surging through standings

https://buffalonews.com/2019/01/11/buffalo-sabres-nhl-carolina-hurricanes/

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