Carolina won 4-3 (Game 1 of 7)

Carolina won 4-3

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

2:00 PM ET, May 20, 2006

PNC Arena, Raleigh, North Carolina

1 2 3 T
BUF 1 1 13
CAR 1 0 12

R. Miller (Sabres - G): Saves: 29, Save Pct.: .935

D. Briere (Sabres - C): Goals: 1, Assists: 0

R. Brind'Amour (Hurricanes - C): Goals: 1, Assists: 0

Buffalo at Carolina 2:00 pm EDT

Buffalo at Carolina 2:00 pm EDT Eastern Conference finals Game One

RALEIGH, North Carolina (Ticker) -- Usually it's a great advantage to have a veteran goaltender in the playoffs. Not this year.

A pair of teams featuring surprising rookie netminders - the Carolina Hurricanes and Buffalo Sabres - face off Saturday in Game One of the Eastern Conference finals.

In addition to Carolina's Cam Ward and Buffalo's Ryan Miller, the Western Conference finals also feature a rookie goalie in Ilya Bryzgalov of the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim.

Perhaps the most surprising of the trio is Ward, who went 14-8-2 with a 3.68 goals-against average during the regular season. The 22-year-old did not take over in the playoffs until after Martin Gerber struggled in the first two games of the postseason and has not looked back since, going 8-2 with a 1.77 GAA.

Ward needed to make only 17 saves Sunday as the second-seeded Hurricanes ousted the third-seeded New Jersey Devils with a 4-1 triumph in Game Five. Cory Stillman's power-play goal late in the second period proved to be the game-winner for Carolina, which is in the conference finals for the first time since 2002.

"The real point here from '02 to now is our top players are pretty young players," Hurricanes coach Peter Laviolette said Friday. "And in '02, some of our top players were older players. So I see quite a bit of a difference. I don't see the similarities."

The fourth-seeded Sabres' run through the playoffs has been an impressive one. They knocked out the fifth-seeded Philadelphia Flyers in the conference quarterfinals and stormed through the top-seeded Ottawa Senators in the semifinals.

Buffalo's five-game series victory against Ottawa featured three overtime wins, including a 3-2 triumph last Saturday as Jason Pominville's shorthanded goal 2:26 into the extra session sent the Sabres into the penultimate round for the first time since 1999.

The 25-year-old Miller has been a rock in net for Buffalo, going 8-3 with a 2.25 GAA in the playoffs. He has yielded two goals or fewer in eight of his 11 postseason contests.

The Sabres lost the first three meetings with the Hurricanes this season before recording a 4-0 victory in the final encounter on April 18.

Game Two is here on Monday.