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by Rob Crean / Buffalo Sabres

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) - Cody McCormick scored the go-ahead goal, got into a fight and drew a key penalty in the Buffalo Sabres' 3-2 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday night.

Drew Stafford and Nathan Gerbe also scored to help Buffalo improve to 5-1-1 in its past seven. Thomas Vanek had two assists and Ryan Miller made 27 saves in cooling a Hurricanes offense that had 15 goals in its previous three games.

Tuomo Ruutu and rookie Jeff Skinner, with 32 seconds remaining, scored for Carolina, which had a three-game winning streak snapped and lost in regulation for the first time in its past nine (6-1-2). ...more.

With Paul Gaustad in the penalty box serving a tripping minor, the Sabres were finishing off a successful penalty kill as Andrej Sekera rushed the puck up ice.  As the penalty expired, Gaustad sprinted out of the box to join Sekera and ended up battling for the puck behind the Carolina net with Brandon Sutter and Ian White.  Gaustad won the battle and slid the puck over to Thomas Vanek, who fed a wide-open Nathan Gerbe in front.  Gerbe took the pass and quickly fired the puck past Cam Ward for the first goal of the game.  It marked the second straight contest that Gaustad was involved in the game’s first goal after opening the scoring against Philadelphia on Tuesday. 

Cody McCormick continued to contribute in a variety of ways for the Sabres.  He dropped the gloves for a fight with Troy Brodie midway through the first period, then scored Buffalo’s second goal of the game at 11:49 of the second period to break a 1-1 tie.  The goal not only gives him three points (2-1-3) in the last two games, it also gives him a new career-high for points in a season with 13 (6-7-13).  In addition, he drew a cross-checking penalty from Carolina’s Joni Pitkanen that led to Drew Stafford’s game-winning power play goal in the third period.  McCormick finished with 15:18 of ice time, which was 3rd among all Sabres forwards, and was credited with three shots, two hits and had a +1 rating.

- Ryan Miller started in goal for the 20th straight game, marking his longest such streak since he played in a career-high 34 consecutive games from Jan. 24, 2008 to Apr. 3, 2008.  During the current 20-game stretch, Miller has led the Sabres to a record of 11-7-2 after making 27 saves in tonight’s win over Carolina.

I thought we were smarter, we were more patient, we were able to gain momentum as the game went on. I thought in the third period, besides the play near the end of the game, we played a real smart game. - Head Coach Lindy Ruff

- Nathan Gerbe now has a point in each of the last three games in which he has played after scoring the first goal of the game and his second of the season.

- Thomas Vanek set up Gerbe’s goal, then assisted on Stafford’s power play goal in the third period.  Vanek (3-5-8) and Stafford (5-3-8) have each registered eight points in the last six games.

- Jordan Leopold has tallied 1-3-4 in the last four games after collecting an assist on McCormick’s goal.  Leopold also led the Sabres with 22:58 TOI and took four shots on goal.

- McCormick’s fight with Troy Bodie midway through the first period gave him 98 penalty minutes on the season.  Entering play Thursday night, McCormick ranked 11th in the NHL in penalty minutes.

- Buffalo won 60 percent of the game’s face-offs, led by Gaustad (13-for-22) and Jochen Hecht (8-for-12)

- Defensemen Chris Butler and Craig Rivet were scratched for Buffalo while Patrick Kaleta missed his sixth straight game with an upper body injury.  Lindy Ruff told the media on Wednesday that Kaleta would remain sidelined for at least another week.

- Forward Sergei Samsonov was the only scratch from Carolina’s lineup.

Buffalo will get its first look of the season at the New York Islanders on Saturday as the teams begin a stretch that will see them face off three times in an eight-day span.  Following Saturday’s game, the Islanders will come to Buffalo on Jan. 21.  The Sabres will make a return visit to Long Island two days later.  Tim Connolly led the Sabres to a 2-1-1 record against the Islanders last season by recording four points (1-3-4) in the season series.  John Tavares, the first overall pick in the 2009 Entry Draft, leads the Islanders this season with 15 goals and 30 points in 39 games.  The Islanders are in the midst of a five-game homestand, which included a 6-4 loss against Ottawa Thursday night.

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