Stempniak, Aho score in SO to help Canes beat Sabres (Dec 17, 2016)

BY AP • December 17, 2016

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) The young Carolina Hurricanes are still learning to ride the highs and lows of the NHL season.

They're doing just fine defending home ice, though.

Lee Stempniak and Sebastian Aho scored on Carolina's first two shootout attempts, lifting the Hurricanes to a 2-1 win over the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday night.

Cam Ward made 23 saves and stopped two shots in the shootout for Carolina, which has points in each of its last nine home games (8-0-1) but had lost a 4-3 shootout heartbreaker to Washington on Friday night.

''It's rewarding to play well,'' Hurricanes coach Bill Peters said. ''I thought we played better last night than tonight - we played better last night and lost and not as good tonight and won. What does that tell you? So I don't know. You've got to stay with it, you've got to battle, you've got to compete.''

Carolina is 2-4 in shootouts this season.

''(Shootout wins) are pretty rare for me, so that felt pretty good,'' said Ward, who took the loss on Friday. ''There's only one way to get over what happens in the shootouts. Today I felt more relaxed and calm than I did last night. I just told the boys I was due.''

Stempniak said he was happy just to get the shootout off on the right foot for his team.

''I guess there's some strategy whether you shoot first or second,'' Stempniak said. ''We've tried everything, it seems like. If you get the first goal and then get the save it definitely puts some pressure on the other team. We got two goals and some big saves from Cam. It's great to get the second point.''

Joakim Nordstrom had a first-period goal for Carolina, and Evander Kane tied it late in the third.

Anders Nilsson stopped 21 shots for Buffalo, which won all three meetings against Carolina last season.

The teams will play again on Thursday night in Buffalo.

Nordstrom put the Hurricanes ahead with 5:56 left in the first, beating Nilsson stick side on a rush with Jay McClement and Brett Pesce assisting.

Buffalo tied it with 2:37 left when Kane, who has points in three straight games, tipped Jake McCabe's shot past Ward stick side.

''We knew we were going to have to ramp up the game to scratch and claw to get a (third-period) goal,'' Buffalo coach Dan Bylsma said. ''I thought we did that, and we got a couple of chances to score. We finally get one with a big goal by Kane there on the backdoor tip-in.''

NOTES: Bylsma has 299 career wins. ... This was the second half of Carolina's fifth back-to-back this season, and the Hurricanes are 4-1 in those second games. ... Pesce played in his 100th game, all with Carolina. ... Carolina C Andrej Nestrasil, D Klas Dahlbeck and D Ryan Murphy were all healthy scratches. ... C Derek Grant and D Justin Falk were healthy scratches for the Sabres. ... The teams meet three times this season, with the finale in Raleigh on Jan. 13.


Sabres: Visit Florida on Tuesday night.

Hurricanes: Host Detroit on Monday night in the finale of their four-game homestand.

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