RALEIGH, N.C. — Defenseman Justin Faulk scored twice to snap a two-month scoring drought and Teuvo Teravainen matched a career high with three assists as the streaking Carolina Hurricanes defeated the Buffalo Sabres 4-2 on Saturday night.
Carolina (16-12-7) won for the fifth time in its last six games to move four games over the NHL version of .500 for the first time this season heading into the Christmas break. Cam Ward also improved to 7-0-1 in his last nine appearances in net for the Hurricanes.
Meanwhile, Buffalo (9-20-7) was swept in the season series for the second straight season, losing six in a row to the Hurricanes by a combined 22-11.
Faulk, a three-time All-Star defenseman who scored a combined 48 goals over the last three seasons, last scored Oct. 29 — a span of 24 games — as the Carolina defensive corps came into the game with only 12 goals in 34 games. He finished with a season-high seven shots.
Jordan Staal put Carolina up 2-0 with a 5-on-3 goal, his 10th of the season, less than two minutes into the second period to get the Hurricanes rolling offensively after they managed only six first-period shots.
Faulk scored twice in less than seven minutes as Carolina took a 4-1 lead.
Buffalo got second-period goals from Nathan Beaulieu — his first of the season — and Zemgus Girgensons to keep within striking distance.
Sebastian Aho scored 33 seconds into the game from the slot, notching his eighth of the season and first in seven games. The goal came seconds after Carolina’s first shot of the game off the stick of Teravainen caught Chad Johnson up high, appearing to sting the Buffalo goalie.
Carolina scored opening-minute goals in consecutive games for the third time in franchise history and for the first time since January 1990.
NOTES: C Ryan O’Reilly, Buffalo’s third-leading scorer, missed his first game of the season for personal reasons. The team said his wife is expecting a child and he returned to Buffalo. ... Buffalo began a season-long seven game road trip against Carolina ... Sabres D Rasmus Ristolainen played his 300th career game. ... Carolina is 12-4-2 in its last 18 games against Buffalo. ... The Sabres were held without a goal in the first period and have only 15 first-period goals in 36 games — worst in the league. ... Carolina has scored first in nine of its last 12 games. ... Carolina LW Jeff Skinner extended his point streak to four games with an assist on D Justin Faulk’s second goal.