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NHL Game Summary - Buffalo at Carolina

(Saturday, May 20th)

Final Score: Buffalo 3, Carolina 2

Raleigh, NC (Sports Network) - Ryan Miller made 29 saves and Jay McKee tallied the eventual game-winning goal in the third period, as the Buffalo Sabres held off the Carolina Hurricanes, 3-2, in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals at RBC Center.

Daniel Briere and Henrik Tallinder also scored goals for the Sabres while Jochen Hecht and Jason Pominville each picked up two assists in the win.

Rod Brind'Amour and Mike Commodore scored for the Hurricanes, who after falling behind 3-1 in the third, scored late to make it a one-goal game, but fell short in the end.

Cam Ward allowed three goals on 27 shots and lost for just the second time this postseason.

Game 2 will be played Monday night in Raleigh.

The Sabres broke a 1-1 tie in the second stanza on a goal by Briere with 10:19 remaining. From the neutral zone, Pominville moved the puck up to Briere as he split the Carolina defense. With Carolina defenseman Bret Hedican a step behind him, Briere lifted a backhander in front off Ward's glove and into the net for a 2-1 Buffalo lead.

The Sabres outshot the Hurricanes 13-4 in the second period.

About 1 1/2 minutes into the final frame the Sabres came close to taking a two-goal lead as Brian Campbell ripped a shot from the high slot off the cross bar.

The first 10 minutes of the third saw the Hurricanes dominate the action with 11 shots on goal. Miller was up to the task, turning aside all 11 shots fired his way while not allowing Carolina many second chance opportunities.

"I had one of those days where I wasn't overly busy in the second period and come the third period it's time to hunker down and do what I can," said Miller.

The Hurricanes went on the power play at 11:32 of the final frame after McKee was whistled off for hooking. After Carolina was unable to score with the man advantage, McKee exited the penalty box and joined a Buffalo rush. Hecht dropped the disc off to McKee, who skated into the left circle and unleashed a wrister through the legs of a screened Ward to give the Sabres a 3-1 lead with 6:20 left in the game.

"I was hoping we didn't need my goal for the game winner," said McKee. "I am happy to help out my team any way I can and you know, when you don't score many goals during the season or through your career, it's certainly a little bit more exciting when you do in the playoffs."

Carolina was able to score a short-handed goal with 2:53 left in the contest to pull within 3-2. With Aaron Ward penalized for holding, the Sabres were cautious on the power play and despite being down a man, the Hurricanes did not sit back. Hedican moved the puck to Commodore and he cranked a slap shot from the point that made its way through traffic in front and bounced past Miller into the net.

The Hurricanes then pulled Ward with about a minute left in the contest, but despite keeping the puck in the Buffalo zone, were unable to net the equalizer as Miller and the Sabres held on for the victory.

"I think it helps set the tone for the series, especially when you are on the road, you don't want to get down in the first two games," said Buffalo head coach Lindy Ruff. "I thought it was a pretty tightly contested game where the first period was pretty even. I thought we had a great second period. We held them off in the third."

Just 2:56 into the opening period, the Sabres used their speed to take a 1-0 lead. Hecht and Pominville raced up the ice on a 2-on-1 rush and from the right wing, Hecht dished the puck across to Pominville, whose one-timer attempt fluttered off his stick and missed the net. Hecht was stationed at the right side of the crease though, and knocked the shot down and managed to center the disc to a streaking Tallinder, who buried the puck into the net past Ward.

The Hurricanes evened the score at 1-1 at the 12:11 mark of the first period on Brind'Amour's seventh goal of the postseason. Cory Stillman pounced on a loose puck in the neutral zone and at the Buffalo blue line took a big hit from Sabres' defenseman Rory Fitzpatrick. Just before absorbing the body check, Stillman got the puck to Brind'Amour, who from the left circle, faked a slap shot and snapped the disc past Miller into the top right corner of the net.

"I thought our first and third period were terrific," said Carolina head coach Peter Laviolette. "I don't know, the second period we sat on our heels. It was what they were doing a little bit, but it was what we weren't doing; we weren't skating out of our end through the neutral zone and establishing speed on the forecheck. We did that in the first. We really did it well in the third and in the second period we were just a little bit slow to do it."

Game Notes

Briere's goal was his fifth of the postseason...Miller made 16 saves in the third period...Commodore's goal was his first-career postseason tally...Eric Staal picked up an assist on Commodore's goal and now has an 11-game point streak in the playoffs...Tim Connolly did not play for the Sabres due to a concussion suffered in Game 2 versus Ottawa in the semifinals...Defenseman Dmitri Kalinin was scratched for Buffalo with an ankle injury...Sabres' defenseman Teppo Numminen left the game after the first period with an undisclosed injury and did not return.

05/20 20:38:59 ET

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