RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -- After reaching several milestones the past few seasons in losses, Ron Francis was able to enjoy his latest accomplishment during a win.
The Carolina captain tied for fourth on the NHL's all-time points list with a goal and the Hurricanes finally solved Buffalo's Mika Noronen, beating the Sabres 2-1 Monday night.
"The guys are working hard and it's nice to get it in a game that helps us win," Francis said when asked about tying Marcel Dionne with 1,771 points. "That's the most special part about it."
Carolina won its second straight at the start of a seven-game homestand and improved to 4-2 under new coach Peter Laviolette. All of the wins have been by 2-1 scores.
"It's a great number, isn't it?" Francis said of the 2-1 scores. "I was actually getting excited when we had two goals halfway through the second, thinking we might get three or four tonight. In the end, 2-1 was good enough again."
Meanwhile, the Sabres had their three-game unbeaten streak snapped.
"We had 12 shots after two periods and it just didn't seem like we had a lot of gas," Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff said. "When you don't skate well not a lot of good things happen for you."
Noronen had beaten Carolina 5-0 and 3-1 in the last five weeks with some spectacular goaltending. But Francis scored his goal early in the second period and Bret Hedican added one later to erase a one-goal Buffalo lead.
Francis, in his 23rd season, chipped in a loose puck in traffic after a shot from Jeff O'Neill bounced high in the air in front of the Buffalo net.
"It was a big goal for our team and a big goal for him," O'Neill said. "It seems like I've said it 100 times but he's in some company that's unbelievable for the rest of the guys in this locker room.
"And somehow I always seem to snivel in some kind of assist or goal on his milestones. Somehow I get my ugly face into the action, but it's been fun the last five or six years seeing him climb up the ladder."
The goal was also the 542nd of his career, passing Stan Mikita for 21st place.
Hedican's shot from the point deflected off a Buffalo defenseman and past Noronen with 4:50 left in the second.
Noronen kept it a one-goal game with 2:53 remaining when he robbed O'Neill as he broke in free.
Danny Markov and Eric Staal hit posts in the first 10 minutes as Carolina's first-period scoring woes continued. The Hurricanes have just 16 first-period goals in 36 games.
Curtis Brown gave the Sabres a 1-0 lead with 1:21 left in the period when he backhanded a rebound past Kevin Weekes.
|Curtis Brown (5) ASST: Jay McKee (1)|
1 - 0 BUF
|Ron Francis (6) ASST: Jeff O'Neill (16), Eric Staal (10)|
1 - 1 Tie
|Bret Hedican (2) ASST: NONE|
2 - 1 CAR
|Power Play %||13.4%||18.8%|
|% on Road||12.2%||16.1%|
|% at Home||14.5%||21.6%|
|Ales Kotalik Too many men/ice - bench|
|Danny Markov Interference against Daniel Briere|
|Ales Kotalik Hi-sticking against Eric Staal|
|Eric Staal Hooking against Jay McKee|
|Eric Boulton Interference against Danny Markov|
|Radim Vrbata Hooking - Obstruction against Derek Roy|
|Adam Mair Tripping against Jeff O'Neill|
|Aaron Ward Roughing against Derek Roy|
|Aaron Ward Tripping against Chris Drury|