Kevyn Adams, Cory Stillman and Anton Babchuk also scored for Carolina, which wilted after a four-goal second period in a meeting of two of the Eastern Conference’s elite. Rod Brind’Amour had two assists allowing the Hurricanes (46-17-6) to snap a two-game losing streak and creep within two points of East-leading Ottawa.
Jason Pomminville, Thomas Vanek and Jiri Novotny scored in the third period, but the Sabres failed to get the equalizer. Buffalo’s best chance came when Carolina goaltender Martin Gerber got his paddle down to stop Maxim Afinogenov’s shot that sneaked through a screen with 2:33 remaining.
The Sabres, who have the East’s third-best record, have lost three straight — their longest losing streak since losing four in a row in November.
It didn’t help Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff, who returned to the bench after missing the team’s 5-0 loss at Atlanta on Monday. Ruff was away attending to his 11-year-old daughter, Madeleine. She had surgery Tuesday to remove a brain tumor.
The Hurricanes appeared to take full control with a four-goal second period, a switch after they had fallen behind 2-0 in each of their last two games.
Williams goal, scored with 1:45 left in the second period, proved to be the winner. Driving to the net, and being held by defender Henrik Tallinder, Williams managed to get a weak shot off that glanced off goaltender Ryan Miller’s stick and bounced into the air.
Williams got his stick out and batted the puck in before Miller could glove it.
The Sabres got back in the game and got the sellout crowd on its feet when Novotny scored a short-handed goal, converting Daniel Briere’s pass, on a two-on-one break to cut the lead to 4-3 with seven minutes left.
The Hurricanes were minus C Doug Weight (groin), who missed his second straight game, and D Bret Hedican (lower body injury), who had played in Carolina’s 3-2 loss at Toronto. … Buffalo recalled Novotny from AHL Rochester on Wednesday to fill in for Tim Connolly, who missed his four straight game with a knee injury. … Pominville’s goal scored 2:50 into the third period, ended the Sabres goal-less drought at 113:19, dating to the third period of Buffalo’s 4-2 loss at Ottawa. … Hurricanes’ Eric Staal assisted on Stillman’s goal, extending his point streak to seven games, in which he has three goals and six assists.