Final

Carolina won 4-3 (Game 4 of 7)

Carolina won 4-3

Game 1: Saturday, May 20th
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Hurricanes2
Game 2: Monday, May 22nd
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Hurricanes4
Game 3: Wednesday, May 24th
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Sabres4
Game 4: Friday, May 26th
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Sabres0
Game 5: Sunday, May 28th
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OT
Hurricanes4
Game 6: Tuesday, May 30th
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OT
Sabres2
Game 7: Thursday, June 1st
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Hurricanes4

7:30 PM ET, May 26, 2006

First Niagara Center, Buffalo, New York

1 2 3 T
CAR 2 1 14
BUF 0 0 00

M. Gerber (Hurricanes - G): Saves: 22, Save Pct.: 1.000

E. Staal (Hurricanes - C): Goals: 1, Assists: 0

A. Ward (Hurricanes - D): Goals: 0, Assists: 1

Gerber, Canes shut out Sabres, even series at 2

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) -- Goaltender Martin Gerber put the Carolina Hurricanes back on track and the banged-up Buffalo Sabres on their heels in the Eastern Conference finals.

Gerber, making his first start in a month, stopped 22 shots to register his first postseason shutout and victory in a 4-0 win Friday night that helped the Hurricanes tie the series at 2.

Bret Hedican had a goal and assist, and Eric Staal scored to extend his points streak to 14 games. Mark Recchi and Andrew Ladd also scored for Carolina.

Gerber got the start after he replaced rookie Cam Ward, who was pulled after allowing four goals on 26 shots in a 4-3 loss in Game 3.

Gerber, who stopped all seven shots -- including three on breakaways -- he faced on Wednesday, has not allowed a goal in 87 minutes against Buffalo. That's a big turnaround after Ward replaced Gerber, who was pulled in Game 2 of Carolina's first-round series against Montreal after giving up nine goals on 34 shots.

Carolina took advantage of an injury-depleted Sabres team that's down three regular defensemen after Henrik Tallinder broke his left arm on Wednesday. With Teppo Numminen (groin) and Dmitri Kalinin (ankle) also out, Buffalo was forced to go with Jeff Jillson and Doug Janik, who entered the game with a combined six playoff appearances, and only two this year.

The best-of-seven series shifts to Raleigh for Game 5 on Sunday with Game 6 back in Buffalo on Tuesday.

Carolina was the first team in the series to win by more than one goal, and the margin of defeat was the Sabres' worst in the playoffs since a 5-1 loss to Montreal in 1991.

Jillson had a particularly difficult outing as he was on for three Hurricanes goals, including the opener 7 minutes in when he turned over the puck behind his net. Carolina worked it around to Frantisek Kaberle, whose point shot was deflected by Recchi and then appeared to glance off Jillson's skate. The puck then dribbled through goaltender Ryan Miller's legs.

Jillson and Janik were then outmatched on Ladd's goal 2 minutes into the second period. Both were caught flat-footed, allowing the rookie to drive to the net untouched and convert a rebound after Miller stopped Doug Weight's shot from the right circle.

With Tallinder done for the playoffs and Kalinin sidelined for at least another 10 days, the Sabres hope Numminen will be able to return for Game 5. Numminen, out since being hurt in the first period of Game 1 on Saturday, has taken the morning skate before the last two games but then ruled himself out.

Carolina scored twice on its first four shots, building a 2-0 lead on Staal's power-play goal 10 minutes in.

Gerber, 38-14-6 in the regular season, then did the rest, stopping 11 shots in the first period. He slid across the crease and stacked his pads to foil J.P. Dumont 6 minutes in. Gerber's best stop came when he got his glove up to snag Chris Drury's snap shot, after the Sabres co-captain split the Hurricanes defense and drove in on net.

Gerber then stopped Mike Grier's one-timer from the slot on a 3-on-2 rush in the second period, and foiled Jochen Hecht on several chances in front.

Buffalo's power play fizzled, going 0-for-4 after the Sabres converted five of 14 chances in the previous two games.

Game notes


Staal has seven goals and 12 assists during his 14-game streak, the NHL's longest in the postseason since Pavel Bure had a point in 16 straight games for Vancouver in 1994. He's four short of the record set by New York Islanders forward Bryan Trottier in 1981. ... Arturs Irbe registered Carolina's last road shutout, a 3-0 win at Toronto in Game 4 of the 2002 Eastern Conference finals. ... The Sabres ended a string of eight games decided by one goal, matching the longest streak in playoff history, set by Montreal in 1989 and matched by Anaheim in 2003.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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