Corvo made it 2-0 with a power-play goal on a blast from the left point at 12:17 of the second.
Peters' best save came with 1:17 left in the second, when he stopped Thomas Vanek's shot in the crease with the barrel of his stick. Vanek was back in the Buffalo lineup after missing two games with a lower-body injury.
The Sabres made it 2-1 on a rush 25 seconds into the third, with Hodgson picking up the change from Vanek's blast from the high slot.
But Jokinen took just 50 seconds to restore the two-goal lead, scoring on Staal's feed into the low slot with Semin again on the secondary assist.
Brennan scored a power-play goal from the right point on Jason Pominville's assist with 5:27 remaining, just 3 seconds after Jay Harrison had returned to the ice to end a 5-on-3.
But Semin scored from Staal with 3:47 left to get Carolina the 4-2 lead.
Hodgson scored short-handed goal with 34 seconds to go.
"It was obviously disappointing.," said Buffalo interim coach Ron Rolston, coaching the Sabres' first ever game at Carolina without Lindy Ruff at the helm. "We were trying to fight back in it, and they would get one right after that. We've got to do a better job of taking care of those next couple shifts after we score."
Buffalo right wing Patrick Kaleta was serving the first of his five-game suspension for his hit on New York Rangers center Brad Richards on Sunday.
NOTES: D Joni Pitkanen (lower body) missed his ninth straight game for Carolina while C Tim Brent (lower body) missed his eighth straight, and RW Chad LaRose (concussion) his second straight. ... Carolina was playing the opener of a three-game homestand. ... The Sabres were playing the second of a four-game road swing.