Final

Series (Game 2 of 4)

Buffalo leads 3-1

Game 1: Friday, November 21st
Hurricanes0Final
Sabres5
Game 2: Friday, December 26th
Hurricanes1Final
Sabres3
Game 3: Monday, December 29th
Sabres1Final
Hurricanes2
Game 4: Sunday, January 25th
Sabres4Final
Hurricanes2

Hurricanes 1

(10-14-2, 30 pts)

Sabres 3

(13-18-1, 30 pts)

8:00 PM ET, December 26, 2003

First Niagara Center, Buffalo, New York

1 2 3 T
CAR 0 0 11
BUF 0 0 33

M. Noronen (Sabres - G): Saves: 30, Save Pct.: .968

T. Pyatt (Sabres - LW): Goals: 1, Assists: 0

K. Weekes (Hurricanes - G): Saves: 30, Save Pct.: .938

Noronen makes 30 saves, Dumont hurt

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) -- After snapping a long losing streak, the Buffalo Sabres are determined to make up some ground.

Mika Noronen made 30 saves and the Sabres scored three times in the third period for a 3-1 win over the Carolina Hurricanes on Friday night.

Ales Kotalik, Taylor Pyatt and Chris Taylor scored for Buffalo, which is unbeaten in its last two games following a seven-game skid. The Sabres won for the first time since Dec. 3 against Chicago.

"It's a big relief," said Noronen, who improved to 4-1 lifetime against Carolina. "Hopefully, we can keep it going."

Sean Hill scored for Carolina, which is 2-2 under coach Peter Laviolette, who took over after Paul Maurice was fired on Dec. 15.

The Hurricanes, the lowest-scoring team in the NHL, managed a season-low two shots on goal in the first period.

"The first period was tough to stomach," Laviolette said. "I don't think we can win many hockey games if we play like that. The first period was unacceptable, by all measures."

For Buffalo, which tied Ottawa 2-2 on Tuesday, the Christmas break couldn't have come at a better time. After enduring a 3-8-1 stretch, the Sabres gave one of their best efforts of the season Friday following the rest.

"We had a couple days off to forget about hockey and get a fresh start," Noronen said. "We were able to get our minds off the game."

Carolina goaltender Kevin Weekes helped keep the game scoreless through two periods thanks in part to a save in the second period on Daniel Briere, who broke in alone from the Carolina blue line. After faking a move to the left, Briere brought the puck to the right and tried to slide it under Weekes, who made a pad save.

"(Buffalo) did a lot of gritty things," Weekes said. "You have to give them credit. It's not an easy game to play when everybody doesn't want to commit."

Kotalik scored on the power play at 3:09 of the third period, breaking an 0-for-17 drought for the Sabres with the man advantage.

Pyatt, who hadn't scored in 10 games, made it 2-0 with 7:46 left in the third. Standing in front of the net, he slammed home a rebound of Miroslav Satan's shot from the right point.

"That's where I have to play my game," the 6-foot-4 forward said. "That's what I'm concentrating on."

The Hurricanes have scored one goal or less in 18 of their 34 games.

"The offense is a frustrating thing," Laviolette said. "We're still dealing with things that are hurting us."

Noronen was the main problem Friday, making save after save over the final two periods when the Hurricanes outshot Buffalo 29-25.

"It's easier if you face more shots, but we had a lot of blocked shots, too," Noronen said. "In the second they got more shots and got me in the game. That was key."

It wasn't all good news for the Sabres, who lost leading scorer J.P. Dumont to a hip pointer with 12:15 left in the first period.

After a faceoff in the Carolina zone, Dumont was hooked in the midsection and twisted around by Carolina defenseman Aaron Ward. Dumont, who has 11 goals and 25 points, fell on his stomach and was unable to pick himself up without help. He left the ice writhing in pain and could not put any pressure on his right leg.

Dumont is expected to miss more than a week, but should not have to undergo surgery.

"It actually happened the shift before," Dumont said. "I went for a rebound and fell on my hip. I thought it was just a bruise. After the faceoff, I tried to go around the guy and I felt it pull again. It was very painful."

Taylor added an empty-net goal for the Sabres with 33.2 seconds remaining after Hill scored his first goal at 14:22 of the third for Carolina.

Weekes finished with 30 saves.

Game notes


Carolina D Glen Wesley played in his 1,200th NHL game. ... The teams left the ice with 36.5 seconds left in the first period after a hole was discovered in the dasher boards in front of the penalty box. The time was tacked on to the beginning of the second. ... Buffalo played its third game without injured C Chris Drury, who has a separated shoulder. ... Following the game, the Sabres called up forward Jason Pominville from their AHL affiliate in Rochester.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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