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Hurricanes 4, Sabres 3, SO @NHLdotcom

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - With six victories in seven tries, the Carolina Hurricanes clearly enjoy the NHL's new shootout. And leading scorer Eric Staal just now got involved.

"When I get my opportunity, I want to make it count," he said. "I was glad to get that chance."

Staal scored in the sixth round of the tiebreaker after goalie Martin Gerber stopped Buffalo's Jason Pominville, helping the Hurricanes beat the Sabres 4-3 Sunday.

It was Staal's first goal in his second attempt when the game goes beyond overtime.

"We've got other guys in this room that are very capable of scoring on penalty shots and on breakaways," left wing Erik Cole said. "They've got confidence, they've been doing it all year."

That was coach Peter Laviolette's explanation for leaving the No. 3 scorer in the league so far down in the order.

"We've got a long list of guys there who do well in the shootouts," he said. "But it was good to see Staaly get in there and make the game."

Cole, Niclas Wallin and Justin Williams scored in regulation for Carolina, which snapped its first two-game losing streak since late December in front of the third sellout in a row. Perhaps the two-week break for the Olympics comes at an appropriate time for the best team in the Eastern Conference.

J.P. Dumont had two goals for the Sabres, who lost for only the second time in the past nine games.

"We come into a building where they don't play the night before, and we play twice in less that 24 hours," Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff said. "I really thought our club did a hell of a job."

Williams tied it for Carolina early in the third period when he redirected a blast from Ray Whitney past Ryan Miller. The goal came 9 seconds after a penalty ended on Buffalo's Ales Kotalik, leaving the Hurricanes 0-for-9 with the man-advantage.

The Sabres rallied from a pair of one-goal deficits, and each time, it was Dumont who did the trick. He took a cross-ice pass from Maxim Afinogenov on the first and beat Gerber, then fought off defenseman Aaron Ward to poke a rebound under Gerber's pad.

"I broke my stick and I couldn't shoot it a second time," Dumont said. "I don't know how it went in. It was so slow that Gerber thought the puck was going wide so he lifted his leg and it went under him. I'll take it."

That one made it 2-2, and Roy gave Buffalo its first lead less than a minute later. His original shot went wide, but it bounced off the boards to Afinogenov. He sent the puck back through the crease and this time, Roy didn't miss.

Still, Carolina came back to get a much-needed victory, outshooting the Sabres 12-5 in the third period.

"I thought the third period was a snapshot of what our team has been about all year long, and the will that's in the locker room," Laviolette said. "They just never quit, they never give up and persevered in the end."

Notes: Before the game, the Hurricanes honored their eight Olympians, including U.S. coach Peter Laviolette. Banners with each name and country were raised to the rafters for Staal (Canada), Frantisek Kaberle (Czech Republic), Gerber (Switzerland), Erik Cole, Matt Cullen, Bret Hedican and Doug Weight (all United States). ... The Sabres have Miller and Chris Drury (United States), Tony Lydman (Finland), Teppo Numminen (Finland), and Afinogenov (Russia). Jochen Hecht originally was selected for the German team, but he will miss the Turin games with a sprained knee.

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