‘Canes beat Sabres in OT


RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – Cory Stillman corralled a loose puck and slid it between Ryan Miller’s pads 8:46 into overtime to lead the Carolina Hurricanes past the Buffalo Sabres 4-3 in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals on Sunday night.

Stillman also had an assist for the Hurricanes, who took a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven series and are one win away from their second trip to the Stanley Cup finals in four years. Carolina, which won 4-0 on the road in Game 4 to tie the series, can advance Tuesday at Buffalo.

Justin Williams, Mark Recchi and Rod Brind’Amour also scored goals for Carolina, and Eric Staal had an assist to push his playoff point streak to 15 games.

The Hurricanes are the first team in the series to win consecutive games. The survivor will face the Western champion Edmonton Oilers for the Stanley Cup.

Chris Drury, Derek Roy and Toni Lydman each scored for the Sabres, who couldn’t hold a two-goal lead in the second period and now trail in a series for the first time in the playoffs.

Carolina sent Buffalo to the brink of elimination with its second power-play goal of the night, getting the man advantage when J.P. Dumont was called for hooking Matt Cullen along the boards. Cullen then fired a shot from the left side that appeared to hit a Buffalo player and bounce off the boards behind the net.

The puck slid by Ray Whitney before making its way to Stillman, who pushed a shot past Miller to end it.

Hurricanes rookie Cam Ward got the win in relief of Martin Gerber, who was pulled by coach Peter Laviolette when Lydman gave Buffalo a 3-1 lead just 1:55 into the second period.

Ward stopped all 15 shots he faced after Gerber made only eight saves on 11 shots.

AP-ES-05-28-06 2250EDT