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Daniel Briere scores shooutout winner as Sabres defeat Hurricanes 3-2

Briere scored the only goal in a shootout and Ryan Miller stopped Carolina cold to give the Sabres a 3-2 victory over the Stanley Cup-champion Hurricanes on Wednesday night in a season-opening rematch of last season's Eastern Conference finals. Briere, the Sabres' first shootout skater, faked right and beat Cam Ward with a backhander for the only goal in the tiebreaker.

"I didn't know what I would do until I got there," Briere said.

Jason Pominville and Chris Drury each had goals during regulation for the Sabres, who lost Game 7 and vowed to use the defeat as motivation this season.

Before the season opener, they stayed in their locker room and listened to the raucous celebration while the Hurricanes raised their championship banner and celebrated their first Cup title.

"Their emotions were running high at the start," Miller said. "We just sat in here during the celebration, but we could hear it. I'm just really happy with the way we competed."

Miller made 32 saves in regulation and overtime and then came up big in the shootout against a Hurricanes team that was 8-2 in the tiebreaker last season.

"We had a couple of good opportunities. They just didn't go in," Carolina defenceman Mike Commodore said.

Ray Whitney missed the net on the first attempt, before Miller stopped Eric Staal with his stick on the second and blocked Erik Cole's weak attempt on the third.

Ward stopped 30 shots, Staal and Cole had goals, and Whitney had two assists for the Hurricanes, who held one final pregame party with the Stanley Cup before they began the task of defending their title.

"We had the time to celebrate, and we did so appropriately, and now we've got to turn the page," Ward said.

During the 20-minute celebration, flashbulbs popped, those rowdy 'Caniacs whooped it up, and the Scorpions' "Rock You Like a Hurricane" blared. Then, the championship banner - commemorating the first major professional title won by a team from North Carolina - was raised to the rafters.

The Sabres took over from there, withstanding a flurry of early shots by Carolina and eventually silencing the sellout crowd at the RBC Center.

The Hurricanes fed off the crowd's early energy and outshot the Sabres 11-1 during the opening minutes.

"I've seen it go both ways, where a team has come out flat or come out and used the energy," Hurricanes coach Peter Laviolette said. "I think we came out real strong, used the energy in the building."

But Pominville gave Buffalo an early lead midway through the first period when he redirected Dmitri Kalinin's shot from the blue line to make it 1-0. That goal came about a minute after Cole's wrist shot from close range bounced off the left post.

"We were lucky to escape that first 10 or 11 minutes the way we did, and I thought after that, we played pretty well," Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said.

The Hurricanes tied it 5 minutes later when Staal took a pass from Whitney on a 2-on-1 break and flipped a knuckling shot past Miller.

Cole gave Carolina its only lead with a power-play goal midway through the second period which put the Hurricanes ahead 2-1. Drury tied it about three minutes later with a tip-in.

Notes: The Sabres improved to 20-13-3 in season-opening games. The Hurricanes' franchise fell to 6-16-5. ... Laviolette's next game will be the 300th of his NHL coaching career. Rod Brind'Amour's next assist will be the Hurricanes captain's 600th. ... Staal's goal at 14:42 of the first period ended Buffalo's regular-season shutout streak at 160:05. The Sabres ended last season with shutouts against the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Hurricanes.



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