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Hurricanes at Sabres: Preview

The Canes shuffle off to Buffalo for an afternoon matinee.

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Jamie Kellner

Carolina Hurricanes at Buffalo Sabres
March 12, 2016 - 1:00 pm ET
First Niagara Center - Buffalo, NY
Fox Sports Carolinas - 99.9 FM - WRALSportsFan app
SB Nation Rival Blog - Die By The Blade

Vital Statistics

Hurricanes Sabres
Record 31-26-11 27-33-9
Points 73 63
Division Rank 6 Metro 7 Atlantic
Conference Rank 10 EC 15 EC
Last 10 Games 5-4-1 3-5-2
Streak Won 2 Lost 2

Goals/Game 2.46 2.35
Goals Against/Game 2.65 2.64
ES Goals For % 46.4% 43.9%
Shots/Game 30.2 29.7
Shots Against/Game 26.9 31.0
ES Corsi For % 52.3% 47.5%
Faceoff % 53.9% 49.4%
ES PDO 98.4 98.8
Power Play % (Rank) 17.5% (21) 19.2% (13)
Penalty Kill % (Rank) 82.7% (8) 81.5% (13)
PIM/Game 06:36 08:19

Goaltender #1 Ward Johnson
Record 20-15-7 15-14-3
ES Save % .916 .925
GAA 2.43 2.42

Goaltender #2 Lack Lehner
Record 11-11-4 5-9-4
ES Save % .907 .925
GAA 2.66 2.45

*Stats from and War on Ice

Game Notes

  • For those scoreboard watching, the NHL did the Hurricanes no favors last night vis-a-vis their playoff hopes. Both the Penguins and Flyers (with games in hand) won, increasing their buffer in the Eastern Conference wild card chase, and Detroit also remains ahead of them with a game to be played later this afternoon. With 14 games remaining and a cut line at around 94 points, the Canes need to pick up around 75% of their remaining available points just to stay in the hunt.
  • The Sabres are a team that the Canes should be able to handle, at least on paper, but they didn't do that when the teams met back on Nov. 27. Despite dominating everywhere but on the scoresheet for the first half of the game, they wheels flew off in the second period and they eventually wound up on the wrong end of a 4-1 loss. That loss, followed by two more over the next week, became the impetus for the roster moves on Dec. 4 that began the team's turnaround. Since that date their record is 23-13-7 and the team has put themselves in position to play meaningful games in March (and perhaps April) despite dealing with significant injuries and moving established veterans at the trade deadline.
  • Jack Eichel, who leads the Sabres with 20 goals, scored the game-winner against the Canes back in November. His draft buddy Noah Hanifin had perhaps the best game of his Canes career Thursday night, assisting on two goals including a masterful shift that set up the overtime game-winner against his hometown Bruins in his first appearance at TD Garden. Eichel and Hanifin are two of only three players from the 2015 draft currently playing in the NHL (Connor McDavid the other, obviously) and have put up solid rookie campaigns as they continue to develop into what will be cornerstone roles for their respective organizations.
  • Like the Canes, the Sabres also traded away a few players at the deadline, and they are missing their points leader, Ryan O'Reilly (17g, 32a, 49pts), who skated for the first time yesterday after suffering a foot injury on Feb. 19. Matt Moulson is a perpetual Canes-killer with 23 points (8g, 15a) in 23 prior games. After suffering an ankle injury that sidelined him for over three months, Robin Lehner is getting a majority of the starts in net these days, though he did not practice yesterday. He has not won against the Canes in three career appearances; Chad Johnson is 5-1-0 with a 2.17 GAA in six appearances. UPDATE 11:00 am: Johnson will get the start in net for the Sabres today.
  • The Canes practiced in Buffalo yesterday but there were no updates on any changes to the lineup or a starting goaltender. Jeff Skinner remains hot as a firecracker with seven points (4g, 3a) in his last five games, and Phil DiGiuseppe (1g, 3a) is riding a three-game point streak.

Projected Lineups

Hurricanes (3/10 vs Bruins)

Joakim Nordstrom - Jordan Staal - Elias Lindholm
Jeff Skinner - Victor Rask - Phillip Di Giuseppe
Nathan Gerbe - Riley Nash - Chris Terry
Brendan Woods - Jay McClement - Brad Malone

Jaccob Slavin - Ron Hainsey
Noah Hanifin - Brett Pesce
Michal Jordan - Ryan Murphy

Cam Ward
Eddie Lack

Injuries and scratches: James Wisniewski (IR ACL), Justin Faulk (lower body), Andrej Nestrasil (fractured vertebra)

Sabres (3/10 vs Canadiens)

Evander KaneJack EichelSam Reinhart
Marcus FolignoJohan LarssonBrian Gionta
Zemgus GirgensonsCal O'ReillyNicolas Deslauriers
Daniel CatenacciDavid LegwandMatt Moulson

Josh GorgesRasmus Ristolainen
Jake McCabeZach Bogosian
Carlo ColaiacovoMark Pysyk

Chad Johnson
Robin Lehner

Injuries and scratches: Cody Franson (neck), Tyler Ennis (upper body), Ryan O'Reilly (lower body), Cody McCormick (blood clot)

Storm Debris

  • Canes Gameday Hub [].
  • Elite Noah Hanifin makes the most of his return to Boston [ESPN NH] with a heads-up play on Thursday's winning goal [Boston Globe].
  • On why Jordan Staal should receive serious consideration for the Selke Trophy [N&O].
  • Cheaters Never Win Hani-Freaking Awesome Edition, featuring NHH Ties and Rob Vollman [Section 328].
  • Eichel still learning as Sabres' season winds down [Buffalo News].
  • NHL sees more shootouts as teams adjust to 3-on-3 play [USA Today].