The victory evened the team’s preseason record to 3-3 while Ward looked to be moving exceptionally well throughout the game, and needed to turn away only 18 shots to preserve the victory.
“With it being our last exhibition game, you want to end it on a high note and I thought our team played a complete game tonight,” Ward said.
“When Buffalo hung around, they got some great goaltending from Ryan Miller, we stuck with our game and it’s great to walk away with the win going into the regular season.”
Pat Dwyer opened the game’s scoring at 2:39 into the second period as he took a pass from Jordan Staal, streaked along the boards to Miller’s right, and unleashed a snap shot that beat the Buffalo keeper high and over his opposite shoulder.
The shorthanded goal was Dwyer’s first of the preseason.
The Hurricanes continued to apply pressure to the Sabres defense both on the penalty kill as well as during two back-to-back power play sequences they had earned at the midpoint of the period.
While Carolina could not capitalize on its power play opportunities, neither could Buffalo.
The Sabres finished the period 0-for-3 with the man-advantage and allowed the Hurricanes to carry their one-goal lead into the third period.
Carolina got another power play opportunity during the first minute of play in the final period, but none of the line combinations that Muller put out on the ice could beat Miller as he kept his team’s chances of tying the game alive.
At the other end of the rink, Buffalo put together its most consistent forechecking effort of the game, keeping the puck deep in the Carolina zone for an extended period of time and created numerous scoring opportunities that forced Ward to maintain his focus until the final horn sounded.
“It was a good push for him, two days in a row,” Muller said of Ward’s performance.
“I wouldn’t say he got a lot of action in the last two days, but I’m gonna’ say that for a confidence builder, he did pretty good in two nights here.”
As quickly as the Sabres had built up its offensive intensity, a penalty to Christian Ehrhoff gave Carolina another man-advantage and chance to add to its lead.
Even as Miller’s exceptional play denied the Hurricanes power play unit once again, finishing 0-for-5 on the night, it was not enough to allow Buffalo to regain any momentum back in order to challenge Ward further.
“I thought the guys pushed hard,” Muller said.
“The wheels were startin’ to fall off a little bit with back-to-back games this early on, but they hung in there and played well.”