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.