Carolina (3-3-1) at Buffalo (6-0-0)

Mostly Cloudy Currently: Buffalo, NY
Temp: 71° F
  • Game info: 8:00 pm EDT Fri Oct 20, 2006
  • TV: FSS, MSG
Preview | Box Score | Recap

After opening the season by winning close games, the Buffalo Sabres are proving they can also blow out their opponents.

The Sabres look for their seventh straight victory to start the season when they host the surging Carolina Hurricanes on Friday.

Buffalo won each of its first four games by one goal, including three in shootouts, but has outscored its last two opponents 16-5.

The Sabres routed Philadelphia 9-1 on Tuesday for their 11th straight regular-season win overall, matching the club record for longest winning streak spanning two seasons. Buffalo also won 11 in a row from April 1-Oct. 26, 1975. The franchise record for consecutive victories in one season is 10, set in 1983-84.

The Sabres are now two wins shy of matching the best start in club history set in 1975-76.

“We’ve gotten fortunate, we’ve gotten some bounces, some breaks and some things to go our way,” Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff said. “Right now, we’ve gotten ourselves on a roll and I’ve often said that breeds a lot of confidence and you don’t think you’ll lose.”

After a scoreless opening 20 minutes Tuesday, the Sabres scored six second-period goals on 12 shots and went 3-for-4 on the power play.

Maxim Afinogenov had a goal and four assists, Thomas Vanek had two goals and two assists, and Chris Drury added his team-high seventh goal to extend his point streak to six games.

Buffalo opened the season with a 3-2 shootout victory at Carolina (3-3-1) on Oct. 4 in a rematch of last season’s Eastern Conference finals. The defending Stanley Cup champion Hurricanes then went on to lose their next three games, but have since won three in a row, including a 5-1 victory over Tampa Bay on Monday.

Carolina was outscored 18-7 during it four-game skid to open the season, but has a 14-5 scoring advantage in its last three contests. In their victory over the Lightning, the Hurricanes went 3-for-7 on the power play after going just 4-for-37 (10.8 percent) in their first six games.

Justin Williams broke out of his scoring slump on Monday by recording his first career hat trick.

“It’s nice to get off the goose egg,” said Williams, who had 31 goals last season. “Sometimes they find a way of going in. I had a lot of scoring opportunities tonight and sometimes that’s the way the puck goes.”

Cam Ward made 34 saves against the Lightning, losing the bid for his first regular-season shutout with 2:13 left in the third period.

“The win is all that matters,” said Ward, who had two shutouts in the playoffs last season.

Ward stopped 30 shots in Carolina’s season-opening loss to Buffalo, while Ryan Miller made 32 saves and stopped all three shootout attempts for the Sabres. Miller, who won 30 games last season, has a 2.48 goals-against average in five starts.

“We’re playing good hockey and we’re still learning about ourselves,” Miller said. “Each night there are adjustments to be made and we want to just keep having fun with it.”

The Hurricanes wrap up their season-high seven-game road trip on Saturday with a matchup against the New York Islanders.

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Friday, Oct 20