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
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
"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
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
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.