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Hurricanes vs. Sabres: Game Preview 3-13-14

And with nary a polar vortex in sight.

Jamie Kellner

Carolina Hurricanes vs. Buffalo Sabres
March 13, 2014 - 7:00 pm ET
PNC Arena - Raleigh, NC
TV - Fox Sports Carolinas
Radio - 99.9 The Fan

SB Nation Rival Blog: Die by the Blade

Hurricanes Record: 28-28-9 | 65 pts | 7th Metro | 13th EC
Sabres Record: 19-38-8 | 46 pts | 8th Atlantic | 16th EC

Post-Season Picture:
Games Remaining: 17
Minimum Points Needed: 93
Points Back: 27 (1.59 points/game)
Playoff Chances (Sports Club Stats): 3%

This is the final time the Hurricanes will face the Sabres this season and the only time they will meet at PNC Arena. The teams split the two prior games played in Buffalo. The last meeting on February 25th was the infamous rescheduled polar vortex game that kicked off the team's post-Olympic stretch. Its result was a heartbreaker as the Sabres scored with 43 seconds left and Ryan Miller made 36 saves in his last game in a Sabres uniform, and the 3-2 loss started the Canes on a four-game losing streak that plunged them into the depths of the Eastern Conference.

The Canes got back in the win column with a 3-1 decision against the Rangers Tuesday night. The Sabres come into Raleigh having lost three straight, the most recent a 4-1 loss to the Predators, also on Tuesday night.

The Hurricanes are 8-3-1 in their last 12 home games against the Sabres.

The Sabres are a depleted team, missing many veterans that were shipped off throughout the season once the team was solidly out of playoff contention. The team is still playing for pride, and interim coach Ted Nolan had this great quote coming out of Tuesday's loss: "Through some ashes sometimes there rises some people." [Buffalo Hockey Beat]

His players didn't rise from the ashes yesterday, however, and about ten minutes into yesterday's practice Nolan didn't like the effort he was seeing, so he went old school and bag-skated the team for the next 20 minutes, after which the remaining veterans huddled the team to regroup before heading to Raleigh [].

With Ryan Miller's departure, the Sabres look strangely different in net, picking up Michal Neuvirth from the Capitals (after trading Miller to the Blues for Jaroslav Halak and then flipping Halak to the Caps for Neuvirth) to accompany Jhonas Enroth. Enroth is 2-2-0 with a 2.49 GAA and one shutout in four games against the Canes. Neuvirth is 4-1-1 with a 2.57 GAA and one shutout in seven games against the Canes.

Forward Chris Stewart is out with an ankle injury and is expected to miss the remainder of the season. Defenseman Alexander Sulzer (lower body) and forwards Zemgus Girgensons (lower body) and Torrey Mitchell (foot) have missed the past three games and are day-to-day.

Projected line-up (from the Nashville game):

Cory Conacher - Tyler Ennis - Drew Stafford
Marcus Foligno - Cody Hodgson - Matt D'Agostini
Brian Flynn - Ville Leino - Nicolas Deslauriers
John Scott - Zenon Konopka - Matt Ellis

Christian Ehrhoff - Mike Weber
Henrik Tallinder - Tyler Myers
Chad Ruhwedel - Jamie McBain

Jhonas Enroth
Michal Neuvirth

The Hurricanes practiced yesterday and will not do so today. There were no changes to forward lines from Tuesday's game. On defense, the only change was a positive one as Justin Faulk returned to practice with the team after missing four games. Faulk alternated with Mike Komisarek and Jay Harrison in practice and will be a game-time decision (it was noted that Brett Bellemore gave Faulk an extra push at practice just to make sure he was ready to return). There was no indication as to starting goaltender, though some speculation that Cam Ward may get the start again tonight with Anton Khudobin in net on Saturday (versus the Bruins).

Projected line-up (from the Rangers game):

Jeff Skinner - Eric Staal - Elias Lindholm
Jiri Tlusty - Jordan Staal - Alexander Semin
Nathan Gerbe - Riley Nash - Patrick Dwyer
Drayson Bowman - Andrei Loktionov - Manny Malhotra
Radek Dvorak

Andrej Sekera - Ryan Murphy
Ron Hainsey - Brett Bellemore
Jay Harrison - Mike Komisarek
Justin Faulk

Cam Ward
Anton Khudobin
Justin Peters

John-Michael Liles has missed two games, and Kirk Muller announced after practice that Liles is suffering from a concussion and will be out indefinitely.

A few Canes players are going streaking: Alexander Semin has points in five straight games (2g, 4a), and Jordan Staal (2g, 3a) and Jeff Skinner (2g, 1a) both have points in three straight.

Muller was complimentary of Elias Lindholm's development (check out his reaction to scoring on fellow countryman Henrik Lundqvist) and role on the top line, and also spoke about Jordan Staal's expanding role, in his post-practice [audio].

For your listening pleasures, Kyle Hanlin and Michael Smith present Episode 13 of the Canes Report Podcast.

We'll have the game thread ready to roll by 6:30 pm. See you at the rink.