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Hurricanes sweep out Sabres

THE Carolina Hurricanes recovered from a pair of heavy losses to shut out the Buffalo Sabres 3-0 on Sunday behind Cam Ward's 36-save effort.

Eric Staal had a goal and two assists for Carolina, which had conceded five goals in each of its last two games against Florida and Columbus.

"Any time you have embarrassing home losses, a 10-1 score in two games, you're going to remember that," Staal said. "The bottom line is we had to respond."

Staal scored his 24th goal of the season on a powerplay midway through the first period, then assisted on scores by Chad LaRose in the first and Sergei Samsonov in the third as Carolina ended a five-game losing streak in Buffalo.

"I think getting the first goal was important," Hurricanes coach Paul Maurice said. "We had gone five periods of hockey without scoring a goal and it starts to wear on your mind and it changes the way you play."

The shutout was Ward's fourth of the season and moved the Hurricanes within three points of Florida and Buffalo in the race for the final Eastern Conference playoff spot. "All you have to do it look at the standings and you can use that for motivation," Ward said. "Every game is huge for us."

Buffalo pulled netminder Ryan Miller after he gave up two goals off 18 shots. Replacement Patrick Lalime stopped 28 of the 29 shots in the final two periods.

"We just started off lackluster, with no passion, and we got buried in a game we should have been jacked up for," Sabres right wing Patrick Kaleta said.

In Sunrise, Florida, Mike Green's NHL-record goals streak for defensemen ended at eight games, but Alexander Ovechkin scored three times to give the Washington Capitals a 4-2 victory over the Florida Panthers.

Green fell one short of tying the overall Washington record for consecutive games with a goal, set by Alan Haworth (1985-86) and matched by Mike Gartner (1986-87).

Ovechkin's second goal broke a tie with 2:31 left, and he completed the hat trick with an empty-netter to push his NHL-leading goals total to 41. Eric Fehr also scored for Washington, extending his goals streak to four games.

In Newark, New Jersey, David Clarkson scored his second goal of the game on a powerplay with 3:32 minutes left to play and New Jersey completed a sweep of conference leader San Jose.

Brian Gionta, Brian Rolston, Patrik Elias and Jamie Langenbrunner also scored to help the Devils' 6-5 win.

Joe Pavelski, Devin Setoguchi, Jonathan Cheechoo, Patrick Marleau and Rob Blake scored for San Jose.

In Detroit, Jordan Leopold scored in the fifth round of a shootout, and Andrew Raycroft stopped 40 shots in regulation and overtime and allowed only Henrik Zetterberg's goal in the second round of the tiebreaker as Colorado edged Detroit 6-5.

In New York, Mike Richards' short-handed goal sparked a four-goal second period, and rookie Claude Giroux had a goal and two assists as Philadelphia downed New York 5-2.

In Anaheim, Ilya Kovalchuk scored three goals in 6:51 span of the second period and also had an assist in Atlanta's 8-4 win over Anaheim.

Elsewhere, it was: Canucks 4, Canadiens 2.


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