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Sabres not at their Sunday best Buffalo outworked in loss to Hurricanes

And on the seventh day, they rested.

It wasn't a very opportune time to do so.

The Buffalo Sabres' only Sunday appearance of the season was as forgettable as they come. The Carolina Hurricanes worked them over from start to finish, waltzing away with a 3-0 victory in boo-filled HSBC Arena. The score was lopsided, the shots were lopsided, and so was the effort.

"They outworked us in every aspect of the game," Sabres captain Craig Rivet said. "It's their second game in two nights, they had to travel, they came into our building, and from the very first drop of the puck they beat us in every single shift the whole night. [They had] desperation, they worked harder, they played their system better, their special teams were better. Absolutely every aspect of the game they beat us."

That about sums it up.

Both teams had plenty to play for, but only the Hurricanes showed it. Coming off a pair of bad defeats, including a 5-1 home loss to Columbus on Saturday, Carolina bounced back to close in on Buffalo in the standings.
The Sabres are just three points up on the Hurricanes for the Eastern Conference's final playoff spot.

"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.

The Hurricanes peppered the Sabres with 47 shots, and they fired away at both Buffalo goaltenders. Ryan Miller stopped 16 of 18 shots in the first period, and coach Lindy Ruff had seen enough from his team. Actually, he hadn't seen enough, at least as far as effort. He tried to spark the squad by inserting Patrick Lalime, but it was more of the same. Lalime faced 16 shots in the second period and finished with 28 saves on 29 attempts.

The Hurricanes were able to shoot so often because they had the puck more. They outraced the Sabres to seemingly every loose puck, especially on a shift late in the second period. The puck came free five times in the Buffalo zone, and five times the Hurricanes recovered it.

The 18,690 in attendance gave a mock cheer when the Sabres finally got past the blue line, but the Hurricanes came right back in.

"We had a jump on them everywhere that we went," said Hurricanes goalie Cam Ward, who stopped 36 shots for his fourth shutout of the season.

The Hurricanes scored twice during their 18-shot first period. All-Star Eric Staal scored the first one and created the second. He jumped to catch a Sabres' clearing attempt midway through the period, then unleashed a shot that deflected off a stick and bounced by Miller on the power play.

Staal undressed Sabres defenseman Teppo Numminen on the second goal, skating around the defender and going in alone on Miller. The goaltender made the save, but Chad LaRose popped in the rebound.

The final goal came with 2:12 left. The puck was sitting by Lalime's left skate, and Sergei Samsonov walked up and tapped it past the goal line.

"The casualness on the third goal just killed me. Killed me," Ruff said. "Just box Samsonov off, keep him away from the net. That was the type of casualness we showed on the first goal against. We could have easily shot that down the ice, off the wall, off the glass. We made a casual play, and that hurt us.

"That was about as bad as we've had, from a lot of players."

The Sabres lost two of the three games on their homestand and return to the ice Tuesday in Toronto. They should have plenty of energy after expending little Sunday.

"I don't even know what to say right now," Rivet said. "That's obviously unacceptable hockey. A lot of us are going to be going home tonight shaking our heads and thinking about pretty much every shift that we played. It's just unacceptable at this time of the year, certainly when we're trying to play against a team that's battling us for that final spot."

e-mail: jvogl@buffnews.com

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Hurricanes 3

Sabres 0

Slapshots: Outworked Sabres finish 1-2 on three-game homestand. ... Hurricanes pile up 47 shots against Miller and Lalime. ... Carolina pulls within three points of eighth-place Buffalo.

Fast fact: The Sabres have allowed 40 shots or more nine times this season.

Next game: at Toronto Maple Leafs, 7 p.m. Tuesday in Air Canada Centre.

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