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Staal nets winner in sixth round of SO to top surging Sabres

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -- With six victories in seven tries, the
Carolina Hurricanes clearly enjoy the NHL's new shootout. And
leading scorer Eric Staal just now got involved.

"When I get my opportunity, I want to make it count," he said.
"I was glad to get that chance."

Staal scored in the sixth round of the tiebreaker after goalie
Martin Gerber stopped Buffalo's Jason Pominville, helping the
Hurricanes beat the Sabres 4-3 Sunday.

It was Staal's first goal in his second attempt when the game
goes beyond overtime.

"We've got other guys in this room that are very capable of
scoring on penalty shots and on breakaways," left wing Erik Cole
said. "They've got confidence, they've been doing it all year."

That was coach Peter Laviolette's explanation for leaving the
No. 3 scorer in the league so far down in the order.

"We've got a long list of guys there who do well in the
shootouts," he said. "But it was good to see Staaly get in there
and make the game."

Cole, Niclas Wallin and Justin Williams scored in regulation for
Carolina, which snapped its first two-game losing streak since late
December in front of the third sellout in a row. Perhaps the
two-week break for the Olympics comes at an appropriate time for
the best team in the Eastern Conference.

J.P. Dumont had two goals for the Sabres, who lost for only the
second time in the past nine games.

"We come into a building where they don't play the night
before, and we play twice in less that 24 hours," Buffalo coach
Lindy Ruff said. "I really thought our club did a hell of a job."

Williams tied it for Carolina early in the third period when he
redirected a blast from Ray Whitney past Ryan Miller. The goal came
9 seconds after a penalty ended on Buffalo's Ales Kotalik, leaving
the Hurricanes 0-for-9 with the man-advantage.

The Sabres rallied from a pair of one-goal deficits, and each
time, it was Dumont who did the trick. He took a cross-ice pass
from Maxim Afinogenov on the first and beat Gerber, then fought off
defenseman Aaron Ward to poke a rebound under Gerber's pad.

"I broke my stick and I couldn't shoot it a second time,"
Dumont said. "I don't know how it went in. It was so slow that
Gerber thought the puck was going wide so he lifted his leg and it
went under him. I'll take it."

That one made it 2-2, and Roy gave Buffalo its first lead less
than a minute later. His original shot went wide, but it bounced
off the boards to Afinogenov. He sent the puck back through the
crease and this time, Roy didn't miss.

Still, Carolina came back to get a much-needed victory,
outshooting the Sabres 12-5 in the third period.

"I thought the third period was a snapshot of what our team has
been about all year long, and the will that's in the locker room,"
Laviolette said. "They just never quit, they never give up and
persevered in the end."

Game notes
Before the game, the Hurricanes honored their eight
Olympians, including U.S. coach Peter Laviolette. Banners with each
name and country were raised to the rafters for Staal (Canada),
Frantisek Kaberle (Czech Republic), Gerber (Switzerland), Erik
Cole, Matt Cullen, Bret Hedican and Doug Weight (all United
States). ... The Sabres have Miller and Chris Drury (United
States), Tony Lydman (Finland), Teppo Numminen (Finland), and
Afinogenov (Russia). Jochen Hecht originally was selected for the
German team, but he will miss the Turin games with a sprained knee.