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(Friday, January 25th)
Final Score: Carolina 3, Buffalo 1
Buffalo, NY (Sports Network) - Jay Harrison scored the deciding goal with 4:50 remaining in the third period as the Carolina Panthers completed a home-and- home sweep of the Buffalo Sabres with a 3-1 decision at First Niagara Center.
Alexander Semin and Jeff Skinner also tallied in the final session for the Hurricanes, while Dan Ellis stopped 40 shots in a sharp first start of the season to help Carolina build off Thursday's 6-3 win over the Sabres.
"The last two games we've really come into our own in terms of playing our system, and I think adding that element of grit to our game has really helped us," said Ellis. "It showed tonight."
Ryan Miller made 39 saves for Buffalo, which began the 2012-13 campaign with victories over Philadelphia and Toronto before Thursday's defeat in Raleigh. Thomas Vanek recorded the Sabres' lone goal of the evening.
With the contest tied at 1-1, Carolina's Eric Staal won a faceoff and worked the puck back to Harrison, whose shot from the right point got past a screened Miller to give the Hurricanes their first lead of the night.
Ellis would make it stand with five saves over the last four minutes, including a tough re-direction attempt from Jason Pominville down the stretch.
Vanek was called for a cross-check just seconds afterward, and the penalty all but sealed the Sabres' fate. Buffalo head coach Lindy Ruff pulled Miller with his team shorthanded, and Skinner sealed the win by taking a pass from Tim Gleason and rushing up the left side for an empty-net score with 26 seconds on the clock.
"You want to win these [close] games, or at least send them to overtime," said Miller afterward. "I needed to make one more save."
After a scoreless first two periods in which both Miller and Ellis were on their games, the Sabres capitalized on a power play early in the third to finally break the stalemate.
With Carolina's Jordan Staal in the box for a tripping call, Vanek corralled a puck that was sent into the boards from Pominville, fended off a check from Joni Pitkanen and fired a wrister from the left circle by Ellis 1:56 into the final stanza.
The Hurricanes responded quickly, however, when Semin skated into the center and rocketed a shot over Miller's left shoulder at the 3:31 mark of the period for the offseason pickup's first goal in a Carolina uniform.
Miller turned aside 14 shots in the first period, while Ellis made 18 saves in the second to match his counterpart and keep the game scoreless.
Carolina had the best scoring opportunity of the opening frame after Vanek was assessed a unsportsmanlike conduct double minor with under 3 1/2 minutes remaining. However, the advantage was quickly negated when Skinner was whistled for a high stick just 29 seconds afterward.
Skinner netted two goals in Thursday's win and now has four over Carolina's first four outings of the season ... After going just 1-for-15 on the power play through the opening three games, the Hurricanes struck twice in five chances with the man advantage ... Vanek has posted nine points (3 goals, 6 assists) in Buffalo's first four tests and has been on the ice for all 10 of the team's goals this season ... Carolina was outshot for the first time in 11 periods after the Sabres finished the second with an 18-10 edge.
01/25 23:28:41 ET