Final - OT
  for this game

Hurricanes open championship defense with matchup vs. Sabres

Oct 4, 2006 - 2:41 PM Buffalo (52-24-6) at Carolina (52-22-8) 7:00 pm EDT

RALEIGH, North Carolina (Ticker) - It is only fitting that the 2006-07 NHL season begins where the previous one ended.

The Carolina Hurricanes raise their championship banner to the rafters of the RBC Center on Wednesday before they kick off their title defense with a matchup against the Buffalo Sabres.

Carolina captured the first Stanley Cup title in franchise history in June, defeating the Edmonton Oilers in an exciting seven-game series. The Hurricanes captured the championship at home, where they also defeated the Sabres in Game Seven of the Eastern Conference finals.

Buffalo actually held series leads of 1-0 and 2-1 in the conference finals before losing three of the last four contests. Five of the seven games were decided by one goal.

The Sabres lost a few free agents in the offseason, including defenseman Jay McKee and left wing J.P. Dumont. Their primary acquisition was blue-liner Jarsolav Spacek, who split last season between Chicago and Edmonton.

Carolina spent most of the summer losing free agents to other teams. After coming over in midseason trades last year, Doug Weight and Mark Recchi departed, as did top defenseman Aaron Ward and underrated center Matt Cullen.

The Hurricanes once again will rely on a balanced scoring attack, led by Eric Staal and Rod Brind'Amour, and the goaltending of Cam Ward, who won the Conn Smythe Trophy as a rookie last year.

Carolina won three of four regular-season meetings with Buffalo in 2005-06.

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