It didn't take long for the Carolina Hurricanes to get a return on recently acquired Andrei Kovalenko.
Kovalenko, attained from Philadelphia on Saturday for Adam Burt and playing for his fifth NHL team in seven seasons, scored 2:49 into the game to help propel Carolina to a 4-1 victory over the Buffalo Sabres on Monday night.
"I think this (trade) is good for me and I just tried to do my best," said Kovalenko, who was seeing limited ice time with the Flyers. "I am going to try to help this team go to the playoffs and far in the playoffs."
Carolina coach Paul Maurice noticed more in Kovalenko's game than his goal.
"He battled on the boards, which is real typical of his game," Maurice said. "He is just a physically strong man. (His goal) showed that he's got some nice offensive skills to go along with his physicalness because he made a good read. He didn't bury his head and just pound it. But he has a nice mixture of common sense and physical strength."
The win moved the Hurricanes six games over .500 this late in the season for the first time in 12 years as they continue to close in on the Southeast Division title.
Buffalo, playing on consecutive nights, fell to 1-14-5 when trailing after one period. At one point in the second period, the listless Sabres were being outshot 25-7.
"We were pretty sharp with the puck," said Maurice. "That was the key to our success early, our defense got back and made great decisions. The first two periods we spent no time in our end of the ice. "
"They were tired, but, hey, we had to play those games early in the year," Maurice added. "We had that schedule in November and guys get injured and get tired. They didn't have the jump in their legs, but we took advantage of it."
Keith Primeau, Paul Ranheim and Sami Kapanen also added goals to give Carolina a 4-0 lead after two periods.P>"We got beat a lot on the rush and they came out real hard and took it to us," said Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff.
Carolina goaltender Arturs Irbe lost his bid for his sixth shutout on a freak goal when Hurricanes defenseman Marek Malik unintentionally tipped in a shot from the point by Miroslav Satan with 11:18 left. The power play goal was Satan's team-leading 29th of the season.
The Hurricanes outshot Buffalo 16-4 in the first period to take a 2-0 lead.
Kovalenko, playing for his third team this season, scored on a backhander as teammate Sean Hill was being checked into the crease and knocked down Sabres goaltender Dwayne Roloson. It was Kovalenko's 14th goal of the season and first in two months.
Primeau scored his 27th of the season with 7:16 left in the period, taking an initial shot on Roloson before circling back in front of the net, grabbing Martin Gelinas' rebound in the slot and placing a backhander high over Roloson's right shoulder.
Primeau's goal surpassed his total last season and tied for his second-best ever. The center had 31 goals for Detroit in 1993-94.
Ranheim's eighth goal of the season came midway through the second period and from a sharp angle to the left of Roloson, who was pulled 3½ minutes after Kapanen's 19th of the season.
Buffalo played its ninth straight game without two-time MVP goaltender Dominik Hasek, who is out with a groin injury.
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