Final OT

Series (Game 3 of 4)

Series tied 2-2

Game 1: Thursday, November 7th
Game 2: Friday, January 3rd
Game 3: Wednesday, March 12th
Game 4: Saturday, March 29th

Hurricanes 3

(22-34-6, 59 pts)

Sabres 2

(21-32-7, 58 pts)

7:00 PM ET, March 12, 2003

First Niagara Center, Buffalo, New York

1 2 3 OT T
CAR 0 1 1 13
BUF 2 0 0 02

C. Adams (Hurricanes - RW): Goals: 1, Assists: 0

A. Mair (Sabres - C): Goals: 1, Assists: 0

J. Dumont (Sabres - LW): Goals: 0, Assists: 0

Adams' wrist shot with 1:19 left sinks Sabres

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) -- The Carolina Hurricanes couldn't have asked for a better debut from Radim Vrbata and Patrick DesRochers.

Vrbata scored the tying goal with 9.6 seconds left in regulation, and DesRochers stopped 32 shots as Carolina rallied to beat the Buffalo Sabres 3-2 in overtime Wednesday night. Craig Adams scored on a wrist shot just inside the blue line with 1:19 left in overtime to extend Carolina's winning streak to a season-long four games.

Vrbata, acquired from Colorado on Tuesday, was all alone when he took a pass in front of the net from Ron Francis and fired it past Martin Biron.

"I just happened to be open and (Francis) just tossed an unbelievable pass,'' Vrbata said. "I had pretty much an open net.''

Vrbata impressed his new team with more than just his scoring.

"He has a good sense of offense and skates very, very well,'' Carolina coach Paul Maurice said. "He is a very highly skilled young player and he loves to play.''

DesRochers, who played nine games with Phoenix this season before being traded to Carolina in December, made several key saves in the third period.

"I thought he played outstanding,'' Adams said. "He kept us in the game when our defensive zone coverage was breaking down from time to time. He made some big saves, especially in the third period.''

Adam Mair and Tim Connolly scored for Buffalo, which is 3-1-1 in its last five.

Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said Buffalo didn't capitalize on its opportunities.

"If you look at the first two periods, we traded chances with them,'' Ruff said. "In the third period, we played a solid period.''

Biron, who stopped 31 shots for Buffalo, said he should have been in better position to save the winning goal.

"(Adams) came right down the middle,'' he said. "I went out to the top of the crease to play him, but I must have been a half a step over to my right, where I couldn't reach it.''

Francis made it 2-1 when he took a pass from Ryan Bayda and fired a slap shot from the left face-off circle past Biron on the glove side. Bayda has points in five straight games and 11 points in his first 14 NHL games.

Buffalo opened the scoring with 1:49 left in the first when Jason Botterill redirected a pass from Eric Boulton to Mair in front of the net, who put it by DesRochers for his sixth goal.

Less than a minute later, Connolly took a pass from Taylor Pyatt alone in the slot, deked several times and backhanded it by DesRochers into the top-left corner for his 10th of the season.

Buffalo's Miroslav Satan had his nine-game point streak snapped. He hit the post with a shot in the third period.

The loss prevented Ruff from becoming Buffalo's all-time wins leader.

Carolina went 0-for-3 on the power play and is seven for its last 69 with the man advantage.

Game notes

Sabres F Curtis Brown hurt his right knee and could miss up to two weeks. D Dmitiri Kalinin hurt his left shoulder and will miss two weeks. ... Sabres F Daniel Briere debuted after being acquired Tuesday from Phoenix and took an obstruction hooking penalty 11 seconds into the game. ... B. Thomas Golisano, who is interested in buying the Sabres, attended the game. ... Francis has 36 goals and 111 points in 121 games against Buffalo. ... Buffalo scratched D Radoslav Hecl (concussion). Carolina scratched F Jan Hlavac (hand). ... The Hurricanes are 2-11-2 on Wednesdays this season.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press