Thu, Jun 01, 2006 - Page 19 News List

Sabres slash past Hurricanes in OT

AP , BUFFALO, NEW YORK

Jay McKee, right, of the Buffalo Sabres, challenges Justin Williams of the Carolina Hurricanes during the third period of Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals at HSBC Arena in Buffalo, New York, on Tuesday.

PHOTO: AFP

Daniel Briere scored a power-play goal 4:22 into overtime and the Buffalo Sabres edged the Carolina Hurricanes 2-1 to force a deciding Game 7 in the NHL Eastern Conference finals on Tuesday.

J.P. Dumont also scored and rookie Ryan Miller stopped 25 shots.

"I knew if the shot could just get to Ward and maybe we could jump on the rebound," Briere said. "I saw the light go on, I saw the fans kind of jumping up, I couldn't see much from the blue line. It's a heck of a feeling."

It was Briere's second overtime goal this postseason -- he scored in Buffalo's 3-2 win over Philadelphia in the first round.

Bret Hedican scored for the Hurricanes, forcing overtime with a goal with 3:53 left in regulation.

Game 7 will be at Raleigh, North Carolina today with the winner advancing to play Edmonton in the Stanley Cup finals, which will open at Buffalo or Carolina on Monday.

"We can't sulk and hang our heads," Hurricanes defenseman Glen Wesley said. "We did a lot of positive things. ... We took a penalty and almost had the kill. Unfortunately, we didn't get the win."

The Sabres won despite facing elimination for the first time this postseason, and rallied after the Hurricanes appeared to grab the momentum by winning the previous two games.

It didn't even seem to matter that the Sabres squandered a 1-0 lead when Bret Hedican scored with 3:53 left in regulation for Carolina.

"It's been our M.O. all year, just a fearless bunch of guys," Sabres co-captain Chris Drury said. "We always seem to find a way. It's certainly no different tonight. Just our poise, too."

The Sabres scored on their first shot on net in overtime and with Carolina's Doug Weight off for boarding.

After failing to generate much in the first 1:40 of the power play, the Sabres attempted one final rush and got a break when Carolina's Justin Williams stumbled inside his own blue line.

Buffalo's Derek Roy got to the loose puck and fed Rory Fitzpatrick at the right point, who quickly fed it across to Briere at the top of the left circle. Briere patiently waited for an opening before snapping a shot which hit Cam Ward's glove and then fluttered in behind the goalie.

Either the Carolina Hurricanes or Buffalo Sabres will host the Edmonton Oilers on Monday in the Stanley Cup finals opener.

The NHL announced the schedule for its championship round Tuesday, just hours before the Hurricanes and Sabres faced off in Buffalo for Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals.

Whoever wins that series will have home-ice advantage against Edmonton, which has been waiting since Saturday to find out its next opponent. The Oilers eliminated the Anaheim Mighty Ducks in five games to capture the West title.

Carolina held a 3-2 lead over Buffalo entering Tuesday night's contest. Game 7 would be Thursday in North Carolina, if necessary.

The first two games of the best-of-seven finals will be in Buffalo or Carolina on Monday and Wednesday before the series shifts to Edmonton for Games 3 and 4 on June 10 and 12. A fifth game, if necessary, would be hosted by the East champion, as would Game 7.

The Oilers would be home for Game 6.

OLN, in its first season as the NHL's cable network in the US, will televise the first two games of the finals. The remaining contests will be shown on NBC, also in its first year of the league's new television deal that was agreed to following last season's lockout.

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