“We’ve played pretty consistently,” Carolina coach Rod Brind’Amour said. “Our guys work really hard and that’s the cornerstone of our group, contributions up and down the lineup.”
The Hurricanes completely dominated the Sabres out of the gates, taking control of the game and jumping out to an early 3-0 lead.
“It felt like that was huge for us,” Aho said. “It was almost the game right there.”
Aho opened the scoring on the power play 2:35 into the game, finishing a pass through the crease from Teuvo Teravainen for a tap-in. Aho extended his hot streak and has goals in six consecutive games.
Noesen had a tap-in of his own midway through the first period on a feed from Martin Necas.
Burns made it 3-0 with 7:13 left in the first, shooting at an open net following a terrific setup by Jesperi Kotkaniemi.
Tuch got the Sabres on the board with 5:15 left in the first on a wrist shot from the right circle. It was his 24th goal of the season.
Things went from bad to worse late in the second period for Buffalo. Sabres leading scorer Tage Thompson left the game with an upper-body injury and did not return. Thompson had been trying to play through injury in recent days and missed practice on Monday. Thompson has 34 goals and 68 points in 50 games. The injury puts his status for this weekend’s NHL All-Star Game in jeopardy.
“Never got in a rhythm and obviously we played a very good hockey team and a capable hockey team,” Sabres coach Don Granato said. “It didn’t matter who we played tonight. That result was going to be not a favorable one for lots of the reasons that were well within our control.”
Buffalo outshot Carolina 8-1 to open the third period but was unable to get on the board before Stepan made it 4-1. Stepan picked up his fifth goal of the season with a deke around Luukkonen at the top of the crease.
Martinook added an empty-net goal with 1:41 remaining.
Sabres forward Jeff Skinner played in his 900th career game. He’s the 63rd active NHL player to play in 900 or more games. Skinner originally entered the league with Carolina after being chosen seventh overall by the Hurricanes in 2010.
Hurricanes: After the All-Star break, travel home to play the New York Rangers on Saturday, Feb. 11.
Sabres: After the All-Star break, host the Calgary Flames on Saturday, Feb. 11, before heading across the country on a three-game road trip.