Jeff Skinner lost his cool and the Carolina Hurricanes lost to the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday at PNC Arena.
Losing to the Sabres wasn’t a first for the Canes this season. And Skinner can show his frustration at times, losing his composure.
But this was a stinging loss for the Canes, another blow to their dwindling playoff chances. The Sabres rallied to score twice in the final four minutes of regulation to pull out a 3-2 victory after Joakim Nordstrom’s goal had given the Canes the lead with 6:20 left in the third period.
Nordstrom’s score came after the Canes (31-28-14) had killed off two Brad Malone penalties — for cross-checking and unsportsmanlike conduct — and pushed Carolina ahead 2-1. But Evander Kane and Johan Larsson then scored one minute apart for the Sabres (30-34-10), who won all three games against Carolina this season.
Larsson’s goal with 2:49 remaining came after Brian Gionta knocked the puck away from Skinner in the Carolina zone. Gionta then found Larsson open in the slot.
For Skinner, who leads the Canes with 25 goals, it was a sour end to a disturbing night. Late in the second period, after being jostled much of the game, he first was penalized for slashing, then for roughing while also picking up a 10-minute misconduct.
“You just play your game and there’s times when you can’t really take it,” Skinner said. “That’s how I felt in that situation. I thought some of the things were borderline and some of the things over the line.
“It’s not something that happens every game or something I go looking for. But when you feel like it’s gone over the line … “
Skinner already had exchanged a few words and shoves with defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen. He also has been slashed by defenseman Zach Bogosian, who was penalized earlier in the second period.
“There’s only so much you can take before you don’t take it anymore, really,” Skinner said.
With 1:27 left in the second, after another confrontation, Skinner slashed Ristolainen. The Sabres’ Marcus Foligno skated in, swinging. Skinner lost his balance and fell to the ice, only to have Larsson hit him while he was down.
“It was kind of a free-for-all out there, a lot of bodies going everywhere,” Skinner said.
Foligno and Larsson each received roughing penalties. Skinner said he wasn’t sure why he received the 10-minute misconduct, but Canes coach Bill Peters said he got “enough of an explanation to know.”
“It was an issue,” Peters said. “He had been warned and continued on.”
The Sabres, who won the first two games this season in Buffalo, took a 1-0 lead in the first and from an unlikely source: veteran defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo, who had last scored a goal in April 2015. Colaiacovo unloaded a shot from the left point, the puck glancing off the stick of Malone and past goalie Cam Ward.
Chris Terry’s goal in the second period, off a Noan Hanifin pass, tied the score — Terry’s second in as many games. Nordstrom’s 10th of the season came on a shot from the slot after he spun around Ristolainen.
Kane’s 20th of the season came off a neat feed from Ryan O’Reilly from behind the Canes’ net.
Goalie Chad Johnson, who always seems to play well against Carolina, finished with 25 saves.
“It’s a tough one,” Skinner said. “It’s something to learn from.”