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Sabres outlast Hurricanes in marathon shootout

by Kurt Dusterberg

RALEIGH, N.C. -- There were plenty of questions surrounding the Buffalo Sabres after their third straight loss Monday. But after a better effort Tuesday, they found some answers.

The Sabres squandered a two-goal lead in the third period, but Zemgus Girgensons scored in the eighth round of the shootout to lift Buffalo to a 4-3 win against the Carolina Hurricanes at PNC Arena.

After a disheartening 5-1 home loss against the Anaheim Ducks on Monday dropped their record to 0-3-0, coach Ted Nolan challenged his team to deliver more than he saw in a lackluster 12-shot performance.

"I've never questioned the character of this team once," Nolan said. "We weren't playing very well for whatever reason, and we have to find the solution to our problems and work it out together."

Until a late comeback by the Hurricanes, the Sabres did just that, riding a two-goal performance from Marcus Foligno.

"It's going to take some time," Foligno said. "We know that. We get up 3-1 and we sit back. It's something that's fixable. We've got confidence now, and this win really does help out."

Sabres goaltender Jhonas Enroth won a duel with Carolina goaltender Cam Ward in the shootout. Chris Terry's second-round shot eluded Enroth, who was sharp all night, tracking pucks well through traffic.

"When you have that feeling that you see all the pucks and you're feeling big in the net, it's a pretty big confidence boost right before a shootout," Enroth said.

The Sabres scored first when Foligno finished a 2-on-1 at 12:07 of the first period. Chris Stewart took a pass from Tyson Strachan through the neutral zone, then waited patiently to set up Foligno in the left circle. Four Hurricanes were caught up ice, allowing Stewart to feed Foligno.

"It felt like we were in practice mode, at the end of practice where you have time," Foligno said with a smile. "It was the longest 2-on-1 I've ever had, but Chris Stewart made a heck of a pass and play to draw the defensemen over to him. I had lots of net to shoot at. It was easy after that."

Hurricanes defenseman Andrej Sekera was injured on the play, going hard into the end boards in pursuit of Foligno. Sekera skated off slowly and did not return. Carolina was already fighting the injury bug, playing without Eric Staal, Jordan Staal, Jeff Skinner and Patrick Dwyer.

"The X-rays were negative," Hurricanes coach Bill Peters said after the game. "Hopefully we catch a break there. I think we're due one in the health department."

The Hurricanes struck for the tying goal 30 seconds into the second period. Enroth stopped Jay Harrison's bad-angle shot, but Riley Nash pounced on the rebound in the slot for his first of the season.

Buffalo regained the lead less than two minutes later on a Torrey Mitchell slap shot. After Hurricanes forward Patrick Brown turned the puck over at the blue line, Brian Gionta quickly moved the puck to Mitchell, who beat Ward with a shot to the far post.

The Sabres extended the lead to 3-1 at 2:54 of the third period on Foligno's second of the game. After a Carolina turnover in the neutral zone, Foligno picked up a pass from Cody Hodgson, cut to the slot and fired a shot inside the left post.

"Tonight was a perfect example of what Marcus can do," Nolan said. "He's a big power forward. When he plays that way and shoots the puck the way he can, he's going to have more nights like this than not. He's got to get away from playing cute and play more like a power forward. When he does that, he's very effective."

The Hurricanes pushed hard in the latter half of the third period. Zach Boychuk set up Terry for his second of the season at 12:11 to make it 3-2. Terry then returned the favor at 18:12, feeding Boychuk, who had been recalled a day earlier from the Charlotte Checkers of the American Hockey League.

"You need those guys to contribute," Peters said. "They were good. I didn't play them as much as I probably should have early. We played them more and they sent a pretty strong statement to the coach that they want more ice time."

The late comeback was only so much consolation to Peters, who is still looking for his first win as Carolina coach.

"You're not going to get too many points in this League down two goals with 10 minutes to go," said Peters, whose team fell to 0-2-1. "I liked the fact that we stayed with it. I liked our third period."

But the Sabres had a little more to like, thanks to their first win. In earning the two points, the winning formula appeared more within reach.

"It seemed like the first three games we were trying to do too much at the blue line," Mitchell said. "The first 40 minutes tonight, we were getting pucks behind their defense and keeping it simple. That's how we're going to win games. We're not going to win them being fancy."

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