For a few minutes Saturday night, it appeared the Buffalo Sabres would win despite playing an ugly, ugly game.
They got the result they deserved.
The Sabres didn't show a pulse until the third period. It was enough to lift them into a 1-1 tie with Carolina, but the Hurricanes quickly scored to extend the Sabres' winless streak.
Buffalo suffered a 3-1 loss, falling to 0-3-2 in the last five games. The crowd in KeyBank Center saw the Sabres drop to 5-11-4 this season.
No more doughnut: The Sabres finally got rid of the zero on the scoreboard with 7:33 to play. Evander Kane sped behind the Carolina defense to accept a pass from Ryan O'Reilly. The left winger beat goaltender Scott Darling between the pads for his 11th goal of the season.
Almost a dozen: Just 10 seconds after his goal, Kane celebrated again. Darling kicked a Sam Reinhart rebound to the driving winger, who put the puck back into the net.
The officials went to a video review and erased the goal, determining that Kane kicked the puck.
Costly mistake: The puck bounced off the stick of Sabres defenseman Justin Falk near his blue line, and the Hurricanes took advantage. Sebastian Aho swooped in for a breakaway, and he fired past goaltender Chad Johnson to make it 2-1 with 4:45 remaining.
Seal it: The Hurricanes' Joakim Nordstrom scored into an empty net with 40.9 seconds left.
Turn it around: The Sabres had a chance to breathe life into a moribund second period with a power play. They took only two shots.
The Hurricanes' Justin Williams stepped out of the penalty box and soon had the puck for a two-on-one. Buffalo defenseman Nathan Beaulieu took away the pass, so Williams hit the brakes. He had time to pick his spot from close range and make it 1-0 with 5:14 left in the second.
That kind of start: Sabres center Johan Larsson had a breakaway chance just after Williams' goal, but he failed to score. As Larsson followed the puck to the boards, he took a high-sticking penalty.
Well, it was improvement: The Sabres said they were embarrassed to have only 10 shots through two periods Friday in Detroit. They had more Saturday – a measly 13.
Neither Eichel nor Reinhart had a shot through 40 minutes.
Eichel had a chance to make it 1-1 with 11:35 remaining in the game. Kane fed the wide-open center in the slot, but Eichel shot the puck into Darling.
Welcome to the Bronx: Sabres fans unleashed a Bronx cheer for the ages. They had 17:24 to warm up for it. That's how long it took Buffalo to get its first shot.
Evander Kane cut the slot and fired into Darling with 2:36 left in the first, and the crowd erupted as if Buffalo had won the game. The Sabres finished the scoreless first period in an 8-4 shot hole.
Two-man disadvantage again: The Sabres took back-to-back penalties during the first period, giving the opponent a five-on-three for the third straight game. Buffalo killed it off with a unique look.
Eichel and fellow center Ryan O'Reilly joined defenseman Marco Scandella for much of the kill. For faceoff with a few seconds left, coach Phil Housley inserted defenseman Justin Falk with forwards Benoit Pouliot and Johan Larsson.
Oh, Darling: The Carolina goalie made the best save of the first period, getting help from Sabres right wing Kyle Okposo. During a late power play, Buffalo worked the puck to Eichel in the left circle. Rather than shoot, he fed Okposo in the slot. The winger took a second to go to his backhand, and Darling dived across the crease to make the save.
Line changes: Right wings Jason Pominville and Okposo swapped lines. Pominville skated with O'Reilly and Pouliot. Okposo lined up with Larsson and left wing Seth Griffith.
The other two lines – Eichel between Kane and Sam Reinhart; and Kyle Criscuolo in the middle of Zemgus Girgensons and Jordan Nolan – remained the same.
Pregame applause: After watching a video featuring cancer survivor Cameron MacDonald and Lucy, a pediatric patient at Roswell Park Cancer Institute, the fans gave a standing ovation to the duo as they conducted the ceremonial puck drop.
Scandella, who lost his father to cancer in 2015, and Carolina captain Justin Faulk gave their sticks to the special guests on Hockey Fights Cancer Night.
Counting the house: The Sabres announced 18,028 tickets sold, but many seats were left empty.
Next: The Sabres play their second of a four-game homestand Monday when they host the Columbus Blue Jackets. They host Minnesota on Wednesday. Connor McDavid and Edmonton Oilers come to town Friday.