BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) - All Sabres center Daniel Briere wanted was to get his shot past the diving Carolina defensemen.
Then he saw the red light, heard the crowd cheer and suddenly: Game 7.
Briere scored a power-play goal 4:22 into overtime, his snap shot from the left circle dribbling in off goalie Cam Ward's glove, to give Buffalo a 2-1 victory over the Hurricanes. The win tied the Eastern Conference final, with the decisive game at Raleigh, N.C., on Thursday.
"I knew if the shot could just get to Ward and maybe we could jump on the rebound," Briere said. "I saw the light go on, I saw the fans kind of jumping up, I couldn't see much from the blue line. It's a heck of a feeling."
It was Briere's second overtime goal this postseason - he scored in Buffalo's 3-2 win over Philadelphia in the first round.
J.P. Dumont also scored for Buffalo and rookie Ryan Miller stopped 25 shots.
The series winner advances to play Edmonton in the Stanley Cup final, which will open at Buffalo or Carolina on Monday.
The Sabres won despite facing elimination for the first time this postseason, and rallied after the Hurricanes appeared to grab the momentum by winning the previous two games.
It didn't even seem to matter that the Sabres squandered a 1-0 lead when Bret Hedican scored with 3:53 left in regulation for Carolina.
"It's been our M.O. all year, just a fearless bunch of guys," Sabres co-captain Chris Drury said. "We always seem to find a way. It's certainly no different tonight. Just our poise, too."
Now it's up to the Hurricanes to respond.
"We can't sulk and hang our heads," defenseman Glen Wesley said. "We did a lot of positive things. ... We took a penalty and almost had the kill. Unfortunately, we didn't get the win."
Briere's goal came with Doug Weight off for boarding. Weight shoved Jason Pominville from behind in the Buffalo end.
After failing to generate much in the first 1:40 of the power play, the Sabres had one final rush and got a break when Carolina's Justin Williams stumbled inside his own blue line.
Buffalo's Derek Roy got to the loose puck and fed Rory Fitzpatrick at the right point, who quickly passed across to Briere at the top of the left circle. Briere patiently waited for an opening before snapping a shot that fluttered in.
"It went off my glove and shoulder and kind of popped in the air," Ward said. "I had no idea where it went after it hit me. Unfortunately, it was too late when I looked back."
Weight was even more frustrated, watching the play develop from the penalty box.
"It's a bad feeling," he said. "I'll come out and give 110 percent and try to do everything I can to help in the game on Thursday."
Hurricanes coach Peter Laviolette disagreed with the penalty, and said the officials missed two infractions against Buffalo during the power play.
The outcome was a reversal of Carolina's 4-3 overtime win on Sunday when Cory Stillman scored with Dumont in the penalty box for hooking.
Dumont can now stop kicking himself for his miscue. His goal, converting Briere's rebound from the slot five minutes in, ended an eight-game scoring drought.
"After I scored that goal, a ton of pressure just went off my shoulders," Dumont said.
It marked only the fifth time the Sabres have forced a Game 7 when trailing a series 3-2. Carolina had previously won all four Game 6's when up 3-2.
Miller played his best game of the series after he had allowed 15 goals on 109 shots in Buffalo's previous four games.
His only blemish was allowing Hedican's goal, when the Hurricanes defenseman scored from the left circle, beating a screened Miller just inside the far post.
Miller kept the game tied by getting his blocker up to stop Hurricanes captain Rod Brind'Amour with 1:40 left in regulation.
Ward also played strong, earning the start after he stopped all 15 shots he faced in relieving Martin Gerber on Sunday. Besides foiling Pominville set up in the slot in the first period, Ward got across in time to block Ales Kotalik's one-timer from the left circle.
The Hurricanes came out flat, outshot 31-26 and 14-5 in the first period.
"Obviously, the emotions are not good," Laviolette said. "We're going to have to be a lot sharper than that."
Other games on May 30, 2006