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Sabres defeat Hurricanes, end six-game losing streak

by Joe Yerdon / NHL.com

BUFFALO -- The Buffalo Sabres used a full team effort to end a six-game losing streak on Friday, when four players scored in a 4-1 win against the Carolina Hurricanes at First Niagara Center.

Jack Eichel gave Buffalo a 2-1 lead with 7:36 left in the second period. Eichel picked up a loose puck in the neutral zone, carried the puck across the blue line and took a wrist shot that beat Carolina goalie Cam Ward over his right shoulder.

"I was trying to make something out of nothing," Eichel said. "I tried to keep it simple, use my speed and get a shot on net. Good things happen when you do that."

The goal happened because Hurricanes defenseman Jaccob Slavin made a pass through center ice that forward Jordan Staal was unable to control. Eichel grabbed the loose puck and skated up the right wing before he picked the corner on Ward.

Eichel's eighth goal came eight seconds after the Sabres killed an interference penalty against defenseman Zach Bogosian.

"We were just coming off the power play and we turned it over in the neutral zone," Hurricanes coach Bill Peters said. "So what it was, was a turnover in the neutral zone and an unassisted goal, so that obviously hurts."

At the time of Bogosian's penalty, the Hurricanes were outshooting the Sabres 21-9. Carolina had two shots blocked on the power play before Buffalo killed it.

"I thought that was the turning point in the game," Sabres coach Dan Bylsma said. "We got the goal in the first period, but it was more of a lucky bounce and a lucky break for us to get the lead. The turning point in the game was the penalty kill there. They had the opportunity on the power play, we come up with a big kill, and momentarily after that, Jack intercepts the puck in the neutral zone, scores that goal for us. It's a big goal, and I thought after that play, after that penalty kill, after that goal, the game changed for us."

Captain Brian Gionta gave the Sabres a 3-1 lead with 22.5 seconds left in the second when he tipped a pass from Matt Moulson past Ward for his second goal of the season.

"I think his celebration indicated just how bad he needed it," Bylsma said of Gionta. "I thought it was a play that came off of defense, it was a defensive play in the neutral zone. They turned the puck over; we get them to turn the puck over, turns back into a nice play from Gionta to Matt and back to Gionta going to the net."

Eddie Lack replaced Ward at the start of the third period. Ward made 11 saves, and Lack had six.

"Looking for a spark," Peters said. "I didn't necessarily love any of the goals tonight myself, but that's me. We needed someone to come in and shut the door and give us a chance, but they did a good job once they had a two-goal lead playing the right way."

David Legwand made it 4-1 with his second goal of the season 6:36 into the third period. He received a pass from behind the net by Jamie McGinn and took a wrist shot that got past Lack.

"That was a set play, going forward to try and put pressure on them," Sabres defenseman Cody Franson said. "They did a good job making them turn the puck over. Pretty simple play getting it back behind the net and hitting Legwand in the slot."

The Sabres (9-12-2) had lost seven of their previous 10 games, including the six-game losing streak (0-4-2). The Hurricanes (8-11-4) have lost seven of their past nine games.

"It's nice to get a win here and get us back on track," Eichel said. "I think we can build off that and hopefully get going in the right direction."

Josh Gorges gave the Sabres a 1-0 lead 8:57 into the first period with his first goal in 130 games. He took a shot from the blue line that bounced off the ice and skipped past Ward.

Gorges had not scored since Oct. 12, 2013, against the Vancouver Canucks while playing for the Montreal Canadiens.

"It's been a long time," Gorges said. "You always want to be able to contribute offensively. That's always fun, so it was nice to be able to get that. It wasn't much of a goal, but I'll take it and we needed to get the first goal tonight and play with the lead."

Hurricanes forward Victor Rask tied it 4:59 into the second period with his seventh goal. After Elias Lindholm picked up a turnover from Gionta and took a wrist shot, Eric Staal followed with a shot that rebounded to Rask, who put the puck past Sabres goalie Chad Johnson.

"I thought we had, actually, a really good 40 minutes, and for whatever reason, it wasn't a great third," Hurricanes forward Kris Versteeg said. "I thought we really played a good game and had opportunities to score and do things like that. To carry that as a positive, we've been playing some good hockey lately."

Johnson made 27 saves. He is 5-1-0 in his career against the Hurricanes.

"It was nice we got rewarded," Gionta said. "It definitely wasn't our best game, for sure, but we found a way to win. We got to take the positives out of that. We scored some goals, some timely goals, gained momentum."

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