Sabres ruins Hurricanes' title celebration

Thursday, October 5th 2006, 8:54 am
By: News On 6

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) _ The Buffalo Sabres waited all summer to make up for the way last season ended _ a loss in the Eastern Conference finals at Carolina.

They didn't seem to mind waiting a little while longer.

The Sabres finally got the win they couldn't seem to wrap up in June, beating the defending Stanley Cup champion Hurricanes 3-2 in a shootout Wednesday night when Daniel Briere scored the only goal of the tiebreaker and Ryan Miller stopped Carolina cold.

``It's not easy to win here. The crowd was wild (and) we knew it would be tough,'' Briere said. ``We hung in there and felt much better'' than they did four months ago.

That's when Carolina won Game 7 of the conference finals and sent the Sabres home for the summer. They vowed during the offseason to use the defeat as motivation this season.

Briere, the Sabres' first skater in the shootout, faked right and beat Cam Ward with a backhander for the only goal in the tiebreaker.

``I didn't know what I would do until I got there,'' Briere said.

Jason Pominville and Chris Drury scored during regulation for the Sabres, who sat in their locker room before the start of the game and listened to the raucous celebration while the Hurricanes raised the championship banner to celebrate their first Cup.

``Their emotions were running high at the start,'' Miller said. ``We just sat in here during the celebration, but we could hear it. I'm just really happy with the way we competed.''

In other NHL games on Wednesday, it was: Ottawa 4, Toronto 1 and Dallas 3, Colorado 2 in overtime.

Miller made 32 saves in regulation and overtime and then came up big in the shootout against the Hurricanes, who were 8-2 in shootouts last season.

``We had a couple of good opportunities. They just didn't go in,'' Carolina defenseman Mike Commodore said.

Carolina's Ray Whitney missed the net on the first attempt, before Miller stopped Eric Staal with his stick on the second and blocked Erik Cole's weak attempt on the third.

Ward stopped 30 shots, Staal and Cole scored goals and Whitney had two assists for the Hurricanes, who held one final pregame party with the Stanley Cup before they began the grueling task of defending their title.

``We had the time to celebrate, and we did so appropriately, and now we've got to turn the page,'' Ward said.

During the 20-minute celebration, cameras flashed, the rowdy 'Caniacs whooped it up, and the Scorpions' ``Rock You Like a Hurricane'' blared. Then, the championship banner _ commemorating the first major professional title won by a team from North Carolina _ was raised to the rafters.

The Sabres withstood a flurry of early shots, eventually silencing the sellout crowd at the RBC Center.

The Hurricanes fed off the crowd's early energy and outshot the Sabres 11-1 in the opening minutes.

``I've seen it go both ways, where a team has come out flat or come out and used the energy,'' Hurricanes coach Peter Laviolette said. ``I think we came out real strong, used the energy in the building.''

But Pominville gave Buffalo the lead midway through the first period when he redirected Dmitri Kalinin's shot from the blue line. That goal came about a minute after Cole's wrist shot from close range bounced off the left post.

``We were lucky to escape that first 10 or 11 minutes the way we did, and I thought after that, we played pretty well,'' Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said.

The Hurricanes tied it 5 minutes later when Staal took a pass from Whitney on a 2-on-1 break and flipped a knuckling shot past Miller.

Cole gave Carolina its only lead with a power-play goal midway through the second period. Drury tied it about 3 minutes later with a tip-in.

Senators 4, Maple Leafs 1

Martin Gerber made 33 saves and Patrick Eaves, Chris Neil, Cristoph Schubert and Daniel Alfredsson scored for Ottawa.

Mats Sundin scored on a breakaway for Toronto, which is entering its 40th season since they last won the Stanley Cup.

The provincial rivals meet again in Ottawa on Thursday night.

Stars 3, Avalanche 2, OT

Darryl Sydor came out of the penalty box to take a pass from goaltender Marty Turco and scored the game-winner goal at 2:07 of overtime and Dallas extended its season-opening unbeaten streak to 10 years.

The Stars tied it in the third on goals 28 seconds apart by Mike Modano and Loui Eriksson.

Joe Sakic scored during a 5-on-3 power play at 11:54 of the first period for Colorado, and Wojtek Wolski made it 2-0 46 seconds later.