'"Put aside the first month, Connolly has been a very solid performer for us," Ruff said. "And I think it's just the tip of the iceberg with the tools he's got."'
'So why would you want to break up the line in the first place? "You have to do that sometimes just to keep things healthy," said Ruff.'
'The 18 stitches holding Connolly's upper lip together finally came out Wednesday, just in time for the Buffalo Sabres' playmaking center to fly to Los Angeles for the inaugural Topps/NHL YoungStars Game.'
'Milley, who returns to Rochester of the American Hockey League, had one assist and averaged more than 12 minutes of ice time in three games with the Sabres.'
'The Sabres and 'Canes each had scoring chances in overtime, but goalies Irbe and Martin Biron – both of whom had solid games – made the saves when it counted.'
'The result was just as disappointing, although it was certainly a substantially better effort than Saturday's 4-2 loss at the Philadelphia Flyers.'
'The Hurricanes presented Francis with a cherry cabinet for all the commemorative crystals he has received — four of them and a silver plate came with it. He also received a golden hockey stick for joining the 500-goal, 1,000-assist club.'
'It was the last of four regular-season meetings between the clubs this season, and Buffalo won the season series 2-1-1.'
'What undoubtedly troubled Carolina coach Paul Maurice was the fact the Sabres didn't come out before the game to watch the presentations to Francis. "It's not like this was some guy's 1,000th game or a truck giveaway," Maurice said. "I was very disappointed they didn't come out."'
'Francis has 108 career points against Buffalo — second-most of any opposing player.'
'The Hurricanes are winless in their last seven games but have five ties during that span.'
'The Sabres earned playoff berths in five straight seasons and a trip to the Stanley Cup finals in 1999, with an average team that had exceptional goaltending. This season they're just plain average, beginning with their 15th-ranked offense (2.67 goals per game).'
'After playing with Dumont and Barnes for most of the season, Satan has a team-high 40 points and is tied with Dumont for the lead in goals (18). The three players have accounted for more than 30 percent of Buffalo's goals, and own 112 points among them.'
'The Buffalo Sabres' two-game winning streak likely will afford forward Erik Rasmussen's shoulder and defenseman Richard Smehlik's psyche more time to mend.'
'Hurricanes' last win against an Eastern Conference opponent came on New Year's Eve against Sabres, 5-4.'