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REVIEW: HURRICANES 3, Buffalo Sabres 1

by Staff Writer / Carolina Hurricanes

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) -- Paul Coffey, who has scored his share of big goals, considered Friday night's game-winner his biggest with the Carolina Hurricanes.

The goal, scored with 7:34 remaining, not only lifted the Hurricanes to a 3-1 victory over the Buffalo Sabres, but moved Carolina into a tie for eighth place in the Eastern Conference.

"It's definitely a big goal for our hockey club," said Coffey, second all-time among NHL defenseman with 394 goals. "To be honest, I think if we lose tonight, we're pretty much done. ... It gives us some confidence now and hopefully we can keep it going."

With the win, the Hurricanes jumped ahead of the Sabres in the standings and caught the idle Montreal Canadiens in the race for the conference's final playoff berth.

Coffey, though, has yet to see the puck go in the net as he shot it through a crowd from the left face-off circle.

Using Sabres defenseman Richard Smehlik as a screen, Coffey snapped a low shot that hit the stick of goalie Dominik Hasek and then flipped up and into the net. The puck may have also tipped in off Hurricanes forward Gary Roberts, who was battling for position in front.

Sean Hill scored into an open net with 4.9 seconds remaining and Paul Ranheim had the first goal for the Hurricanes, who won back-to-back games for the first time since March 8.

Coffey's goal came with Vaclav Varada off for interference, the fourth straight penalty called against the Sabres. Overall, the Hurricanes enjoyed eight power-play opportunities to the Sabres' four.

The Hurricanes have four games left, including a season-ending home-and-home series against the expansion Atlanta Thrashers.

"We've got to win at least three of the four. We may have to win all four, I don't know," said Hurricanes coach Paul Maurice.

The key, however, was starting with a win against the Sabres, a team that beat the Hurricanes in Carolina 5-1 last Monday night.

"If we didn't win tonight, that was it," said Maurice. "I can't tell you how much I enjoyed standing behind the bench and watching those guys work hard. It was great."

Varada, with his season-high eighth goal, opened the scoring deflecting in Rhett Warrener's point shot over goalie Arturs Irbe's shoulder 32 seconds into the second period. The Hurricanes replied at the 11:41 mark on Ranheim's goal.

The Hurricanes played without All-Star Sami Kapanen, who missed his second game because of concussion-like symptoms.



Carolina 0 1 2--3

Buffalo 0 1 0--1


FIRST PERIOD -- Scoring: None. Penalties: G Wesley, Car (interference),7:22; Satan, Buf (holding), 11:27; Coffey, Car (hooking), 12:13; Pratt,Car (roughing), 14:38.

SECOND PERIOD -- Scoring: 1, Buffalo, Varada 8 (R Warrener, Tsyplakov),0:32. 2, Carolina, Ranheim 9 (Battaglia, Kron), 11:41. Penalties: Gilmour,Buf (slashing), 6:24; C Gratton, Buf (elbowing), 16:02; Gelinas, Car(holding, misconduct), 19:40; Patrick, Buf (high sticking), 19:52.

THIRD PERIOD -- Scoring: 3, Carolina, Coffey 9 (power play) (Francis),12:26. 4, Carolina, Hill 13 (empty net) (unassisted), 19:55. Penalties:Tsyplakov, Buf (high sticking), 5:58; D Ward, Buf (high sticking), 8:11;Varada, Buf (interference), 10:58; Pratt, Car (roughing), 14:13; CGratton, Buf (roughing), 14:13; Buffalo bench, served by D Ward (Delay ofgame), 19:55.

Shots on goal:


Carolina 7 12 8--27

Buffalo 7 7 6--20


Power-play Conversions: Car - 1 of 8, Buf - 0 of 4. Goalies: Carolina,Irbe (20 shots, 19 saves; record: 31-27-9). Buffalo, Hasek (26, 24;record: 12-10-5). A:18,690. Referees: Larue, B Mccreary. Linesmen:Amell, Scapinello.

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