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Ehrhoff, Miller give Sabres win against Hurricanes

by Joe Yerdon

BUFFALO -- Christian Ehrhoff scored twice, including the game-winner with 43.4 seconds left in the third period, and Ryan Miller made 36 saves to give the Buffalo Sabres a 3-2 win against the Carolina Hurricanes at First Niagara Center on Tuesday.

Ehrhoff circled the Hurricanes net and fired a wrist shot that glanced off defenseman Justin Faulk into the goal in the NHL's first game after the break for the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

"Sometimes the hockey gods are good to you," Ehrhoff said. "I had Marcus [Foligno] on the back door there and just got a lucky bounce in, and obviously it was a big goal in the last minute."

Ehrhoff gave the Sabres a 1-0 lead on a second-period power play. His fifth goal of the season was a shot from the blue line that glanced off goalie Cam Ward's glove and trickled over the goal line at 5:54. Ward was screened on the shot by Sabres forward Matt Moulson.

"I think the German head coach for the national team was in the crowd tonight, so maybe he wanted to put on a good show for him and he did," Sabres coach Ted Nolan said of Ehrhoff. "He played well for us."

Drew Stafford assisted for his 10th point in the past eight games. Miller had an assist on each of Ehrhoff's goals, the goaltender's first two points of the season.

"I played forward for a little while when I was a kid," Miller said. "I can't remember a time [when I've done that]. It's pretty amazing. The boys walked up the ice and their first opportunity it went in. It's great to see they get rewarded for putting pucks to the net because we need to see more of that."

Miller's performance came on a night when Sabres general manager Tim Murray spoke before the game about the likelihood of the goaltender being traded by the March 5 NHL Trade Deadline.

"I'm not going to close anything off because maybe as we go through, some things change," Miller said. "The things that they're going to have to do, they're probably going to come during the trade deadline, and maybe I'm one of them, and they're going to come during the draft and during free agency. So it's going to be tough to correlate seeing what they're going to do, what they can do, and what I might need to do with my career. I don't want to close anything off right now, but I know they're kind of looking around for opportunities. That's probably the best for everybody."

Hurricanes captain Eric Staal tied the game 1-1 with 3:08 to go in the second period. Staal broke in 3-on-2 with Alexander Semin and Faulk but never passed and shot through Miller's five-hole for his 15th goal of the season.

"We had lots of chances," Staal said. "We had plenty of 2-on-1s, 3-on-1s, chances right in front of the net, rebounds, second-chance opportunities. The looks are there, you want to have that killer instinct, especially when it's a close game, to bury them. Tonight, Miller made a lot of good saves."

Carolina held a 21-9 shot advantage through two periods. That trend continued into the third, but Buffalo grabbed the lead with 7:47 left when Tyler Ennis poked a loose puck in the crease into the net to make it 2-1. A shot from Moulson squirted through Ward's pads and slid unattended before Ennis tapped it in for his 14th goal of the season.

"I got excited when I saw the puck just lying there," Ennis said. "I was happy no one else really saw it. Good feeling to see the puck just sitting there and it was a big goal."

Carolina outshot Buffalo 38-18 in the game.

"It's a tough pill to swallow right now for everybody," Staal said. "We definitely had the better of the chances for pretty much every period. We gave up some good ones and they capitalized. Miller was good. You want to bear down on some of the looks you got, and he got the better of us on a lot of those grade-A chances."

The Hurricanes tied it 2-2 with 4:00 left when Semin fired a wrist shot by Miller for his 15th goal of the season.

"Points are huge every night," Hurricanes coach Kirk Muller said. "You can't let them slip away, no matter what reason. We played well enough to win tonight and we walk away with zero. That's tough to start our road trip."

Carolina visits the Dallas Stars, Los Angeles Kings, Anaheim Ducks and San Jose Sharks in the next week.

Ward stopped 15 shots in his first start since Dec. 31.

"I thought he battled, I thought he competed hard, and made some real good saves when he needed to," Staal said of Ward. "It was just a real unfortunate bounce on the winning goal for them with under a minute to go."

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