Connolly, Miller help Sabres top Hurricanes

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BUFFALO, New York (Ticker) -- The Carolina Hurricanes certainly

have not enjoyed their trips to Buffalo recently.

Tim Connolly scored two goals and Ryan Miller made 36 saves,

leading the Buffalo Sabres to a 3-1 victory over the Hurricanes

on Saturday.

Defenseman Teppo Numminen also tallied and Thomas Vanek notched

a pair of assists for the Sabres, who have beaten the Hurricanes

five straight times at home. In their last three meetings at

HSBC Arena, Buffalo has won by a combined margin of 18-3.

"It was a tough night, kind of same old story," Carolina captain

Rod Brind'Amour said. "I thought we played a lot harder game.

We competed, it just didn't work out."

Ray Whitney scored and Cam Ward turned aside 23 shots in his

11th consecutive start for Carolina, which had its season-high

losing streak reach five games.

"What are you going to say? You just have to keep playing hard

and believe in ourselves," Brind'Amour said. "The one good

thing is, no one is pointing fingers in here. We're all in it

together."

Connolly opened the scoring at 7:58 of the first period,

redirecting blue-liner Toni Lydman's shot past Ward. It was

Connolly's first goal since November 12.

"I'm happy to be back, it's great to be back with the guys,"

said Connolly, who had missed nearly two months with a rib

injury. "I thought, all-around, we played a tremendous game

from goaltending on out. I thought it was a great game for us

to build on."

The Sabres doubled the advantage with 3:30 left in the opening

session, when Numminen scored his second goal of the season on a

wrist shot from the high slot.

Buffalo grabbed a 3-0 edge as Connolly capitalized on a turnover

with 3:04 remaining in the second for his fourth tally of the

campaign.

Vanek forced the turnover inside the blue line and made a short

backhand pass to Connolly, who skated in alone and beat Ward

with a wrist shot.

"I haven't had too many (two-goal games). I'm usually trying to

set someone else up," Connolly said. "It's nice to be able to

get out there, get a couple. (Vanek) made a couple great plays

on the goals. If it wasn't for those plays, I probably wouldn't

have scored."

It was more than enough offense for Miller, who stopped 18 shots

in the third period after surrendering a goal by Whitney just 17

seconds into the session.

"We had the lead, we knew they'd come strong," Miller said.

"They're right behind us in the standings. We're up on them,

and even if it doesn't work out for them, they still want to

prove they can play. I thought we did a great job just playing

good, hard-nosed hockey."

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