BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) An extended layoff helped the Carolina Hurricanes start fast and hold on late for their third victory in four games.
Jeff Skinner and Justin Faulk had first period goals in Carolina's 3-1 victory over Buffalo on Thursday night. Cam Ward made 22 saves and Sebastian Aho scored on an empty net in the final minute as the Hurricanes beat the Sabres for the second time in six days.
The Hurricanes had four days off following Saturday's 2-1 shootout win over Buffalo. Monday's scheduled game against Detroit was postponed due to unplayable ice at PNC Arena.
Alternate captain Jordan Staal said the extra rest ''probably didn't hurt'' the Hurricanes.
''I thought a lot of guys had some good jump tonight,'' Staal said. ''All through the lineup, everyone was skating well and doing good things.''
''This game should've been a desperation game for us,'' Sabres coach Dan Bylsma said. ''It's disappointing we come out and play that way in the first.''
Skinner scored his team-leading 13th goal on a wrist shot from the right circle 1:14 into the game.
Faulk made it 2-0 with 2:09 left in the first period. Lee Stepniak forced a turnover that led to a 3-on-1 rush and Faulk snapped a wrist shot over Lehner's glove for his sixth goal of the season.
''When you get odd-man rushes, they're so few and far between now in the league, you've got to bury some or you're going to be in trouble,'' said defenseman Ron Hainsey, who led the Hurricanes with 23:56 of ice time.
Carolina's offensive attack was efficient in the first period, scoring on two of its six shots on goal.
''They didn't have many shots in the first, but pretty much every shot was grade-A,'' Lehner said.
The Hurricanes outshot the Sabres 13-5 in the second period, but could not score on four power plays. Buffalo did not have a shot on goal in the first 9:35.
''I would have liked to have more than two on the board at that stage,'' Carolina coach Bill Peters said. ''I don't like to let teams hang around.''
The Hurricanes had lost seven of their last eight road games. They squandered a third period lead in four of those defeats.
Gionta got the Sabres within a goal 5:32 into the third period. Sam Reinhart's pass from behind the net set up Gionta for his sixth of the season.
Buffalo had a chance to tie the game on a late power play but Ward saved the Sabres' only shot on goal.
Bylsma benched star center Jack Eichel on a power play in the first period, but Eichel played on the third period power play. Bylsma said he was trying to send a message to Eichel, who hasn't recorded a point on the power play in his last five games.
NOTES: Buffalo D Cody Franson missed his first game of the season with an undisclosed injury. Franson did skate during warmups. F William Carrier was a healthy scratch after playing the past 21 games. . Hurricanes G Eddie Lack backed up Ward after missing 14 games due to a concussion. ... Carolina snapped a four-game losing streak in Buffalo. The Hurricanes last won here on Jan. 23, 2014. ... Skinner has four goals and two assists in his last five games. ... Bylsma remains stuck on 299 NHL regular season victories.
Hurricanes: Host Boston on Friday looking to extend nine-game point streak at home
Sabres: Close out stretch of five games in eight days at Islanders on Friday.
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