Final - OT
  for this game

Briere's shootout goal helps Sabres top Hurricanes

Oct 5, 2006 - 2:14 AM RALEIGH, North Carolina (Ticker) -- Daniel Briere and the Buffalo Sabres got it right this time.

Briere scored the only goal of the shootout and Ryan Miller stood tall as the Sabres avenged last season's Eastern Conference finals loss with a 3-2 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes on Opening Night.

After battling tooth and nail with the Hurricanes in the conference finals only to lose Game Seven at the RBC Center, the Sabres were forced to wait to start their 2006-07 campaign as Carolina raised its Stanley Cup championship banner to the rafters.

"When you win the Cup, you can take as much time as you want," Miller said. "We were fine with it. ... We just sat around in the locker room, stretching and trying to get ready. We tried to stay focused. We could tell it was loud."

Once things got underway, it was much of the same as the teams finished each period tied. But once the game went to the shootout, Buffalo bunkered down and pulled out the victory.

"It felt like Game Eight," Miller said. "We had to come here at some point, might as well have been first."

"It's basically the same teams, almost," Carolina defenseman Mike Commodore said. "That's what games are going to be like against them the rest of the year. It makes for good hockey."

Under the NHL's new rules, the Hurricanes took advantage of their option to shoot first. However, Ray Whitney shot wide on Carolina's first attempt.

Briere followed with a nifty deke in front of goaltender Cam Ward and lifted a backhander into the net to give Buffalo the advantage.

"I didn't really know what I was going to do until I got there," Briere said. "It was spur of the moment and I guessed right. You just look for where you can take advantage of where he's leaning, where there's a little hole. I felt comfortable going to the backhand, and it went in."

"I felt like I played him really tight," Ward said. "I was moving with him. It goes to show how good a player he is to get a goal when he doesn't have much room."

Miller proceeded to stop Eric Staal and Erik Cole to secure the win.

Jason Pominville and Chris Drury scored in regulation and Miller made 32 saves for the Sabres, who debuted new blue and gold road uniforms.

"I think Ryan made some key saves and I think we did a good job of being in the shot lanes and blocking shots," said Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff, the reigning Jack Adams Award winner. "We were lucky to escape that first 10 or 11 minutes the way we did and I thought after that, we played pretty well."

Staal and Cole tallied for Carolina, which fell to 6-15-6 in season openers.

Cole nearly put the Hurricanes ahead just under eight minutes into the game, but his shot on a partial breakaway rang off the left goalpost.

The Sabres did not waste their chance shortly thereafter as Pominville deflected defenseman Dmitri Kalinin's wrist shot from the left point past Ward at 9:09 for a 1-0 lead.

"The first goal we scored was big," Briere said. "It was like, 'We're in the game now. We can win this game.' I thought that first goal was a huge confidence builder."

Staal drew Carolina even with 5:18 remaining in the opening period, beating Miller with a wrister from the top of the left faceoff circle. The tally ended Buffalo's regular-season shutout streak, which reached 156 minutes, 4 seconds after the Sabres closed the 2005-06 campaign with consecutive blankings.

Cole made it 2-1 when he chipped Whitney's pass from the high slot by Miller during a 5-on-3 power play with 7:19 to go in the second.

The lead lasted less than three minutes as Drury deflected a shot from the right point behind Ward at 15:32.

"You look at both goals and they were kind of plinko goals," Ward said. "We'll learn from it and move on."

Whitney recorded a pair of assists for the Hurricanes, who posted an 8-2 record in shootouts last season.

"You love (the shootout) when you win, you hate it when you lose. Right now, I hate it," Ward said. "It would have been nice if we'd been on the better end."

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