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Associated Press
10/20/2006 11:34:02 PM

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) - Derek Roy and the Buffalo Sabres haven't let success go to their heads.

"Right now we're a good team, but I think we can be a little bit better," Roy said after getting two assists in Buffalo's 5-4 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes on Friday night, the Sabres' seventh straight win to start the season. "We have some work to do and some errors to clean up."

Despite Roy's feelings, it's hard to imagine the Sabres improving on their early season showing.

The win over the defending Stanley Cup champions was Buffalo's 12th consecutive victory, setting a franchise record and surpassing the 11-game winning streak that began at the end of the 1974-75 season. They are one win from matching their best start ever, set in 1975.

"We're confident and we know we have a good team," said Thomas Vanek, whose fourth goal of the season broke a third-period tie. "Hopefully we can keep it going."

Vanek's quick shot from the slot squirted through goalie Cam Ward's legs with 6½ minutes to go in the third and gave Buffalo a 4-3 lead. Jaroslav Spacek made it 5-3 nearly two minutes later.

Maxim Afinogenov had a goal and two assists, and Jason Pominville and Dmitri Kalinin also scored for the Sabres, who haven't lost a regular-season game since April 7, against Philadelphia.

"We know on the inside how good a team we are, but we're not going to talk about it on the outside," Pominville said. "We just want to play hard every night and keep proving to everybody that we are a good team."

Scott Walker, Eric Staal, Eric Belanger and Mike Commodore had goals for the Hurricanes, who had their three-game winning streak stopped.

"You don't go 7-0 by showing up and not competing or not having intensity," Carolina coach Peter Laviolette said of the Sabres. "But we can play better than that."

Five of Buffalo's seven victories have come after it has trailed, including Friday night's intense rematch between the teams that advanced to the Eastern Conference finals last season.

The teams traded goals in the first period before Staal gave Carolina a 2-1 lead 8:37 into the second period with the Hurricanes on a two-man advantage.

Kalinin answered for Buffalo with a short-handed goal, blasting a high slap shot over Ward's right shoulder from the left circle.

Afinogenov gave the Sabres their first lead 58 seconds later, banking a shot that went off the back of Ward's skates. Carolina tied it at 3-3 just over two minutes later when Belanger's shot from the side of the net ricocheted off goalie Ryan Miller's skates.

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And the streak continues. Nicely done. Carolina looks like they could be a very good team again this year.

Unfortunately for them, the Buffalo Sabres may be just a little better. ;)

Carolina and Buffalo could be one of those rivalries that get looked over. At least, I think it's a rivalry. The game is always tight until the end, and the teams compete especially hard when they face each other.
 
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