Niagara Gazette

Sports

May 25, 2006

Sabres shine in second period, regain series lead

The Sabres took control of the game in the second period, scoring three goals, two of which came off the stick of Danny Briere.

BUFFALO — Eric Staal took most of the oxygen out of HSBC Arena, but enough remained for the Buffalo Sabres, who can now breathe a bit easier.

Staal’s power-play tally at the 15:52 mark cut a Buffalo lead that at one time had been 4-1 to 4-3, but the Sabres and goalie Ryan Miller were able to withstand the storm, hanging on for a 4-3 victory on Wednesday night at HSBC Arena.

With the win, the Sabres take a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series.

The Sabres took control of the game in the second period, scoring three goals, two of which came off the stick of Danny Briere.

“Certainly, we didn’t play very well in the second period,” Carolina coach Peter Laviolette said.

Sabres forward Ales Kotalik netted the eventual game-winner at the 12:55 mark of the second, netting a one-timer off a pass from Maxim Afinogenov to make the score 4-1.

The goal chased Carolina goalie Cam Ward, who gave up the four goals on 26 shots. Replacement Martin Gerber stopped all seven shots he faced, including breakaways by Mike Grier and Derek Roy.

Laviolette, though, refused to say whether Gerber would stay in.

“I have no comments on injuries or lineups,” he said.

Buffalo got off to a quick start, testing Ward with two shots in the first 16 seconds.

But it was the Hurricanes who would strike first at the 14:07 mark, as Cory Stillman’s attempted pass to Mike Commodore at the front of the Buffalo net got tipped into the goal off the stick of Sabres defenseman Jay McKee.

Each team then ran into penalties, with the Sabres eventually making Carolina pay.

With Carolina forward Rod Brind’Amour in the box for hooking, Chris Drury tipped in Ales Kotalik’s point shot with 29 seconds to go in the opening period, knotting the score at one.

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