RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — The Carolina Hurricanes and Buffalo Sabres kept shooting pucks off each other’s players — and they kept going in the net.
Sebastian Aho and the Hurricanes simply did it more often.
Aho scored two goals off the skates of Buffalo defensemen, and the Hurricanes held on to beat the Sabres 4-3 on Friday night, spoiling Jeff Skinner’s return to Raleigh.
“Sometimes you don’t get those bounces, and today, both of my goals were lucky,” Aho said. “So that’s how it goes, but a good win.”
Micheal Ferland had a deflected goal and two assists, Justin Williams also scored and Teuvo Teravainen added two assists. The Hurricanes scored three goals in 7:27 of the second period and have won five of six for the first time this season to move within five points of a playoff spot.
“Huge. You can either go one way or the other,” Williams said, referring to a 3-1 loss at Tampa Bay the night before. “Tough loss, felt we deserved better, blah, blah, blah. You’ve heard that before this season. But the jump-back here for a team that was waiting for us last night — big win.”
Skinner scored his 30th goal in his first game against Carolina since he was traded to the Sabres. Jason Pominville also scored and Kyle Okposo pulled Buffalo within one with a deflected goal of his own with 3:12 remaining.
The Sabres have lost five of seven, going 2-4-1 in that stretch. They had Jack Eichel back in the lineup after the center with a team-best 49 points missed three games with an upper-body injury.
“Those bounces go both ways,” Skinner said. “You just have to do a good job of working for your own bounces and eliminating as many opportunities (for the other team) as you can.”
Curtis McElhinney made 30 saves for Carolina. Carter Hutton stopped 26 shots for the Sabres but gave up three fluky goals — including two to Aho.
Carolina led 3-2 after a flurry in which the teams combined for three goals in a 72-second stretch of the second, with Aho’s goal off Rasmus Dahlin’s skate following Pominville’s tying one-timer and a wrist shot from Williams that started it all.
Aho then stretched it to 4-2 with 7:33 left in the period when his wraparound shot clicked off Jake McCabe’s skate and by Hutton.
Okposo made it a one-goal game late with — what else? — a tipped goal when his pass down the goal line bounced off the stick of Carolina forward Saku Maenalanen and past McElhinney.
“We don’t seem to make things easy,” Williams said. “We got up a couple goals, and gave up one late, and then are really scrambling. That, we have to clean up. I’m happy we’re getting the two points, but important to make it easy on ourselves, if we can.”
Those strange goals overshadowed Skinner’s return to Raleigh, which came on the same day he was picked for the All-Star Game for the first time since he was a rookie with Carolina and in the midst of the first of his six 20-goal seasons in eight years with the Hurricanes.
They traded him to Buffalo in August for Cliff Pu and three draft picks, and with a goal total surpassed only by Washington star Alex Ovechkin this season, he’s certainly fit right in with his new team.
“It’s a good feeling. It sort of summarizes my time here, the way I feel,” Skinner said. “I had a good time here as a player here, as a part of the community. Just a lot of good memories.”
Skinner’s 30th goal tied it at 1 with 20.7 seconds left in the first, when he whacked a rebound out of midair past McElhinney. It came after Ferland was credited with the first weird goal of the night with 9:35 to go. His shot hit off Hutton’s glove before bouncing off the top of the net and off Marco Scandella’s stick before trickling across the line.
NOTES: Williams has points in six straight games. ... Skinner has four goals in four games. ... This was Ferland’s first career three-point game. ... Carolina D Justin Faulk and Buffalo C Johan Larsson dropped their gloves late in the second. Both players received roughing penalties, with Faulk’s a double minor. ... The Sabres made room for Eichel by sending LW C.J. Smith to their AHL affiliate in Rochester.
Sabres: Play host to Tampa Bay on Saturday night.
Hurricanes: Play host to Nashville on Sunday.