Williams helps Carolina hold off hard-charging Sabres

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) -- Justin Williams had a goal and assist and
Carolina weathered a three-goal third period to pull out a 4-3
victory over the Buffalo Sabres on Wednesday night.

Kevyn Adams, Cory Stillman and Anton Babchuk also scored for
Carolina, which wilted after a four-goal second period in a meeting
of two of the Eastern Conference's elite. Rod Brind'Amour had two
assists allowing the Hurricanes (46-17-6) to snap a two-game losing
streak and creep within two points of East-leading Ottawa.

Jason Pomminville, Thomas Vanek and Jiri Novotny scored in the
third period, but the Sabres failed to get the equalizer. Buffalo's
best chance came when Carolina goaltender Martin Gerber got his
paddle down to stop Maxim Afinogenov's shot that sneaked through a
screen with 2:33 remaining.

The Sabres also had a goal disallowed midway through the second
period when referee Brad Meier called Buffalo's Daniel Briere for
goaltender interference before Taylor Pyatt scored.

The Sabres, who have the East's third-best record, have lost
three straight -- their longest losing streak since losing four in a
row in November.

It didn't help Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff, who returned to the
bench after missing the team's 5-0 loss at Atlanta on Monday. Ruff
was away attending to his 11-year-old daughter, Madeleine. She had
surgery Tuesday to remove a brain tumor.

The Hurricanes appeared to take full control with a four-goal
second period, a switch after they had fallen behind 2-0 in each of
their last two games.

Williams goal, scored with 1:45 left in the second period,
proved to be the winner. Driving to the net, and being held by
defender Henrik Tallinder, Williams managed to get a weak shot off
that glanced off goaltender Ryan Miller's stick and bounced into
the air.

Williams got his stick out and batted the puck in before Miller
could glove it.

The Sabres got back in the game and got the sellout crowd on its
feet when Novotny scored a short-handed goal, converting Daniel
Briere's pass, on a two-on-one break to cut the lead to 4-3 with
seven minutes left.

Game notes
The Hurricanes were minus C Doug Weight (groin), who missed
his second straight game, and D Bret Hedican (lower body injury),
who had played in Carolina's 3-2 loss at Toronto. ... Buffalo
recalled Novotny from AHL Rochester on Wednesday to fill in for Tim
Connolly, who missed his four straight game with a knee injury. ...
Pominville's goal scored 2:50 into the third period, ended the
Sabres goal-less drought at 113:19, dating to the third period of
Buffalo's 4-2 loss at Ottawa. ... Hurricanes' Eric Staal assisted
on Stillman's goal, extending his point streak to seven games, in
which he has three goals and six assists.