PLAYOFFS
CAR Wins series 4-3
52-24-6, 25-13-3 away
3
123T
BUF1023
CAR1214
52-22-8, 31-8-2 home
4

Whitney scores twice as Canes even up series with Sabres

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -- It was the kind of play that saves not only a game, but perhaps a season.

Elias Says

Buffalo Sabres
The Sabres scored an ultimately meaningless goal against Carolina with 3 seconds remaining in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals Monday, making the final score 4-3. However, it marked the seventh consecutive game for the Sabres that was decided by one goal (five wins and two losses). That's tied for the third-longest streak in NHL playoff history. The Canadiens (1989) and Mighty Ducks (2003) each played eight consecutive one-goal games; Minnesota (2003) also had a seven-game streak.

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Glen Wesley, an 18-year veteran and the longest tenured active

NHL player not to win the Stanley Cup, dived over his goalie to

stop a sure goal.

"It was just a reaction thing, and fortunately, it stayed

out," said Wesley, who played in his 157th career playoff game.

And fortunately for the Carolina Hurricanes, he was there to

protect the lead in the third period.

Ray Whitney had both of his goals in a dominating second 20

minutes and the Hurricanes beat the Buffalo Sabres 4-3 Monday night

to even the Eastern Conference finals.

Frank Kaberle and Justin Williams also scored for Carolina in

Game 2, and rookie Cam Ward needed only 16 saves to pick up his

ninth victory of the playoffs. The Hurricanes had a 16-4 advantage

in shots during the second period, a game after the Sabres led that

statistic 13-4.

"We made a note of it after the first period to make sure we

didn't have a letdown and continued to skate hard," Whitney said.

"With our team, when we skate hard, it's a better mix for us, when

we're not standing around and watching other teams do their

thing."

Game 3 is Wednesday night in Buffalo.

"We were skating and it was just fun to watch," Ward said.

"You see the guys playing that hard in front of you, you want to

do the same for them."

Whitney redirected a shot from Eric Staal on the power play for

his first goal to give Carolina a 2-1 lead, then added another with

the teams skating 4-on-4. Matt Cullen dug the puck out of the

corner and passed to Whitney between the circles, and his one-timer

slipped through goalie Ryan Miller to make it 3-1.

From Whitney's perspective, considering how open he was, he had

to wait an eternity for Cullen's assist.

"I was thinking, 'Pick your head up and slide it," Whitney

said with a laugh. "It just kind of opened up. Once Matt was done

stick-handling, he slid it over. It was a good play."

Buffalo nearly got within one goal early in the third period

when defenseman Jay McKee sent a slap shot toward the net. It

bounced off Ward's pads and was trickling toward the net when

Wesley leaped over the goalie to swipe it out of harm's way.

The play was reviewed in the replay booth, and referee Dan

O'Halloran quickly skated away from the phone to signal no goal.

"I saw Cam stop it and it literally trickled through him,"

Wesley said. "Fortunately, I was on the side and not in front of

him, and I was just able to get my stick on it, I guess in the nick

of time."

Staal had a great view of the play, standing behind Wesley in

front of the crease.

"That puck was going pretty quick, it was a great play," Staal

said. "You need those plays throughout the playoffs."

A short time later, Williams skated in and sent a deflected

wrist shot toward the net, where Miller simply whiffed on it with

his glove to give Williams his sixth goal of the postseason. The

capacity crowd at the RBC Center serenaded Buffalo's rookie goalie

with a chant of "Miller! Miller!" as the Hurricanes celebrated.

"The puck just hit the edge of my glove, hit my face, my

shoulder, went in," Miller said. "I would have liked to have

played it differently, obviously."

That proved to be an important goal when Buffalo captain Chris

Drury backhanded a rebound over Ward's right shoulder during a

two-man advantage midway through the final period. It was 4-2 at

that point, but the Hurricanes held on to take the best-of-seven

series back to Buffalo despite Derek Roy's power-play goal in the

final second.

"I wouldn't consider that a narrow defeat, by any means,"

Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said. "Their lines were better than our

lines, that's just the bottom line. The first 40 minutes was

probably the worst hockey we've played in the playoffs."

Carolina's power play, the best in the NHL during the playoffs

despite being shut out in the opener, got off to a great start with

goals on the first two opportunities. With right wing Ales Kotalik

off for interference, the Hurricanes patiently passed the puck

around before it got to Kaberle.

He used a screen from Rod Brind'Amour to beat Miller from right

outside the left circle.

"It was important, obviously, it's tough to play catch up

against a team like that, the way that Miller's been playing,"

Cullen said. "You certainly don't want to go down one, like we did

the last game."

Buffalo tied it late in the first period when Thomas Vanek got

credit for a goal that appeared to bounce in off Carolina

defenseman Mike Commodore. That also came on the man-advantage.

Then came the second 20 minutes and the Hurricanes' domination.

It started early when Doug Weight deftly dragged the puck through

the legs of Sabres defenseman Rory Fitzpatrick, but Miller was up

to the task when Weight went to the backhand.

The Hurricanes took the lead for good with Jochen Hecht in the

penalty box for tripping, with Whitney getting his first goal.

"We have to want it more if we want to move past these guys,"

Sabres co-captain Daniel Briere said. "They're a good hockey team,

but we want to play harder."Game notes
Buffalo D Teppo Numminen (lower body injury) didn't dress

and Doug Janik took his place in the lineup. It was Janik's first

game with the Sabres since the 2003-04 season. ... In the first

period, a message on the scoreboard read: "The Carolina Hurricanes

have won as many Super Bowls as the Buffalo Bills." ... Wesley got

an assist on Whitney's second goal, his first point of the

playoffs. He earned the second star for his efforts.