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by Scott Miner / Buffalo Sabres

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - The Carolina Hurricanes often say their play mirrors that of captain Eric Staal.

Now that their once-slumping All-Star center seems to be heating up, it's no coincidence that they're threatening to escape last place.

Staal had a goal and two assists to lead the Hurricanes past the Buffalo Sabres 4-2 on Friday night.

"As he goes, we go," forward Chad LaRose said.

LaRose scored the go-ahead goal with 11:50 left, Justin Faulk also scored and Brandon Sutter added an empty-net goal for the Hurricanes, who never trailed in winning for the fourth time in seven games.

"Everyone was engaged and involved in the game," coach Kirk Muller said. "Everyone felt good about their game, I think. I don't think we had any passengers. So there is a real good atmosphere on the bench (and) a lot of it was from the players. ... That's good to see. That's where it's got to come from."

One of the Hurricanes' most consistent performances from start to finish helped them earn points for the third time in four games, as they try to dig out of the Eastern Conference cellar. They moved two points behind Tampa Bay for fourth in the Southeast Division. FULLRECAP

After a center ice skirmish that saw Nathan Gerbe and Jussi Jokinen receive 2 minute minor penalties (holding & roughing respectively), the stage was set for some open ice, 4-on-4 hockey.  It didn’t take long for the action to heat up. Winger Chad LaRose picked up a loose puck on the half-board and streaked down the right side of the ice, and after a quick glance back and a flick of his wrist, he snapped a shot past the blocker side of Sabres netminder Ryan Miller. The goal gave the Hurricanes a 3-2 lead with just under twelve minutes to go in the third period.


With the Hurricanes struggling, head coach Kirk Muller knew that he needed his captain to be a presence on the ice, and Eric Staal would gladly oblige.  Playing 30 shifts for over 23:00, Staal collected a goal, two assists and was selected as the first star of the night as he led the Hurricanes to a 4-2 win over the Sabres. Carolina forward Chad LaRose said it best during his post-game interview “As he goes, we go.”

  • I don’t want to stand here and talk about grade A scoring chances because we probably had maybe our highest total chances of the year and we walk out of there with two goals. And then to make the play we did on the winning goal where we get caught it wasn’t a wise decision - Head Coach Lindy Ruff discussing the 4-2 loss to Carolina
    Defenseman Tyler Myers returned to action after missing 19 games with a broken wrist. The blueliner suffered the injury on November 19 during the Sabres 4-2 loss to the Phoenix Coyotes.
  • Defensemen TJ Brennan, Christian Ehrhoff & forward Cody McCormick were all scratched for the Sabres. Ehrhoff missed his third straight game with an upper body injury suffered on December 31 against the Ottawa Senators .
  • Forward Derek Roy left the game after just 3 shifts in the first period. Roy did not return to the game with an upper body injury.
  • The first period ended scoreless in Raleigh. Buffalo was outshot by the ‘Canes 15-12 and both teams managed to play a clean 20 minutes with no penalties being called.
  • Mike Weber took the first penalty of the game at 2:32 of the second period when he was called for high sticking. Carolina converted just 7 seconds later when a Justin Faulk slap shot beat Ryan Miller.
  • Thomas Vanek scored his 19th goal of the year to tie the game 21 seconds later after Cam Ward could not get a handle on a Jason Pominville shot.
  • Jason Pominville scored his 14th of the year when he threw a bad-angle shot at Cam Ward who misplayed the bouncing puck. Pominville finished the game with 2 points (1+1) and plus- of 2.
  • Tyler Myers finished the game with 23:08 minutes of ice time spaced out over a 31 shifts. Only fellow blueliner Jordan Leopold had more time on ice with 23:30.
  • Buffalo managed 33 shots on goal during the game and collected 5 penalties for 10 minutes.

The Sabres return to the First Niagara Center tomorrow night to take on the Winnipeg Jets. It marks the 11th time this year that Buffalo plays back-to-back games. In total, Buffalo plays twenty one sets of back-to-back games. Tickets for the game are still available and can be purchased by clicking here. Don’t forget to check out the Labatt Tailgate Tent Party outside of the First Niagara Center. Special guest Stu Barnes will be in attendance and tickets are just $10. Click here to get your ticket now.

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