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Skinner counters late to lift 'Canes in Buffalo

Oct 15, 2011 - 2:53 AM
Buffalo, NY (Sports Network) - Fifty-seven seconds after the Carolina Hurricanes coughed up their lead, Jeff Skinner got it right back and spoiled Buffalo's home opener.

Skinner scored on a power play with 1:24 remaining to lift the Hurricanes to a 4-3 win over the Sabres on Friday night in a game that went quiet for more than a period and a half before a sudden burst of offense at the end.

Drew Stafford tied the game for Buffalo with 2:41 left, scoring in close after the puck took a weird bounce off the end boards, but Thomas Vanek was called for tripping with exactly two minutes left to set up Skinner's game-winner on a shot from the right circle.

"It was a big win for us," said Skinner. "Character win -- I think that's the best way to describe it."

Skinner's was the third special teams goal for the Hurricanes after Brandon Sutter and Tim Brent both scored shorthanded earlier in the game. Jay Harrison also scored and Cam Ward had 39 saves as Carolina won its second straight game after starting the season with three losses (0-2-1).

The Sabres, who opened with two wins in Europe last weekend, took their first loss. Vanek and Derek Roy scored and Ryan Miller allowed four goals on 34 shots.

Jiri Tlusty was in the right place at the right time to start the 2-on-1 rush that led to Carolina's second shorthanded goal for a 3-2 lead at 6:59 of the second period.

After the puck found him in the slot, Tlusty and Brent split the ice with Buffalo defenseman Christian Ehrhoff backtracking between them. Tlusty's try was stopped, but Brent hammered in the rebound.

"It seemed like just little things on the power play -- a missed puck here or a bounce there," said Miller.

Earlier, Jordan Leopold set up Buffalo's first goal with a shot from high on the left side that Vanek got a piece of before it skipped across the goal line 6:58 into the game.

After Harrison tied the game 82 seconds later on a long shot snap shot that got through a screen, Buffalo quickly regained the lead 1:41 later when Roy was in good position on the right side to score on a rebound from Stafford's sharp-angle shot.

But the Hurricanes tied the game at 2-2 with just 12 seconds left in the first period when Sutter got behind the Sabres on a penalty kill, skated down the left side and cut in front of the net to beat Miller for a shorthanded goal.

The game was chippy for a while after Sabres forward Jason Pominville was rattled by a hard hit to the chest from Hurricanes defenseman Bryan Allen in the first period as he skated with his head down near center ice.

"It may be one [league officials] look at, I'm not sure," Sabres head coach Lindy Ruff said of the hit, which knocked Pominville into another Hurricanes player before he hit the ice.

Buffalo's Cody McCormick drew an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for going after Allen early in the second period.

Later, Paul Gaustad jabbed at Allen from behind during a scrum next to the Carolina goal midway through the second, ending in a fight between Gaustad and Tim Gleason, who got the worst of it. Allen, despite dropping his gloves in the ruckus, didn't receive a penalty.

Game Notes

The teams have split their last 10 meetings...Buffalo beat Anaheim 4-1 last Friday in Helsinki, Finland, and trumped Los Angeles 4-2 Saturday in Berlin, Germany...Carolina started a four-game road swing that also includes trips to Boston, St. Louis and Winnipeg.