The Sabres' Skinner scored in his return to Carolina, but the team lost

January 11, 2019 - 10:41 pm

Raleigh, NC (WGR 550) - Things started pretty well for Jeff Skinner in his return to Carolina. Right off the bat he sent a nice pass to a wide open and breaking Jack Eichel, but Eichel couldn’t catch the pass or he would’ve been in alone.

When Skinner was in Carolina, he was severely criticized for his defensive play, but he hustled back as hard as he could to help break up a 3-on-1.

He was quick on the forcheck which produced a turnover. Tage Thompson got a good opportunity out of it on the wrap-around, but Curtis McElhinney made the save.

Trailing 1-0, Buffalo got a power play at 19:31 and just eight seconds later, Rasmus Dahlin put a puck to the crease and Skinner used a baseball move to bunt home his 30th goal to the delight of the fans that cheered for him for many games in Raleigh.

Skinner became the sixth fastest Sabre to reach 30 goals in a season. Pat LaFontaine is on the list twice. Joining him are Alex Mogilny, Rick Martin and Gil Perreault.

In the second period Skinner wasn’t as involved as Carolina got three goals. Of the four goals that went in on Carter Hutton, three went in off Sabre defensemen. After the game all the players we spoke with thought they were too loose defensively.

Things really didn’t go too well for Thompson playing with Eichel and Skinner. He looked very nervous and it just seemed like the idea was a little too much for him at this point in his career.

After 40 minutes Skinner played 13:55 with two shots. He was minus-2, but he couldn’t be blamed on either goal.

In the third period Sam Reinhart was back on the line with Eichel and Skinner.

With the goaltender pulled Skinner chipped another one off McIlhinney’s shoulder and Buffalo lost by a goal.

Skinner played 21:47 and was minus-2 on the game. He also had four shots.

As expected the Hurricanes ran a very nice tribute video. Skinner had a big smile as he watched the whole thing and then waived to the adoring crowd. Skinner said he very much enjoyed the reception he got, but he obviously wished they would’ve won.

It doesn’t get any easier as Buffalo is home against Tampa Bay on Saturday. The Lightning are 17-1-1 in their last 19 games.

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