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Hurricanes vs. Sabres: Preview

The Canes are back home for six of their ten remaining games, Derek Ryan returns to the lineup, and it's Eichifin Round Three between the 2015 draft rookies.

Photo Credit: Jamie Kellner / Perry Nelson (USA Today)

Carolina Hurricanes vs Buffalo Sabres
March 22, 2016 - 7:00 pm ET
PNC Arena - Raleigh, NC
Fox Sports Carolinas - 99.9 FM - WRALSportsFan app
SB Nation Rival Blog - Die By The Blade

Vital Statistics

Hurricanes Sabres
Record 31-27-14 29-34-10
Points 76 68
Division Rank 7 Metro 7 Atlantic
Conference Rank 11 EC 14 EC
Last 10 Games 3-3-4 4-3-3
Streak OT 1 Lost 1

Goals/Game 2.42 2.34
Goals Against/Game 2.65 2.63
ES Goals For % 46.0% 43.9%
Shots/Game 30.2 29.8
Shots Against/Game 27.3 30.9
ES Corsi For % 52.0% 47.5%
Faceoff % 53.8% 49.4%
ES PDO 98.4 98.8
Power Play % (Rank) 17.0% (23) 19.0% (13)
Penalty Kill % (Rank) 83.7% (7) 81.8% (12)
PIM/Game 06:34 09:18

Goaltender #1 Ward Johnson
Record 20-15-9 17-15-3
ES Save % .915 .925
GAA 2.42 2.41

Goaltender #2 Lack Lehner
Record 11-12-5 5-9-5
ES Save % .908 .923
GAA 2.68 2.47

*Stats from and War on Ice

Game Notes

  • After wrapping up five games on the road, the Hurricanes return home where they'll play six of their final ten games of the season within the friendly confines of PNC Arena. The Canes lost three straight games heading into the trade deadline on Feb. 29, but since the calendar turned to March they've picked up points in seven out of eight games. Unfortunately, four of those eight games were overtime losses, and while 10 points in 16 games is a decent pace, it isn't enough to keep up with the other Eastern Conference teams that are securing a stronghold on a spot in the post-season. The Canes are now seven points out of a wild card spot, and with the playoff cut line reaching 95 points, they basically need to win out in order to get close to that target. The tragic number is now down to 14.
  • With that said, if they're going to keep score, you might as well try to win. A win against the Sabres always feels good, but the Canes haven't been able to do that so far this season, losing both earlier games played in Buffalo. Tonight's game will close out the series for the season. The Canes have won five of the last six against the Sabres here at home.
  • It's also time for Eichifin Round Three between Jack Eichel and Noah Hanifin, former USNTDP teammates and 2015 second and fifth overall draft picks. To say Eichel has the upper hand might be a bit of an understatement, considering he netted the game-winner for the Sabres against the Canes on Nov. 27, then upped the ante with two more goals including the overtime game-winner with one second remaining on March 12. But that's okay, because for the first time this season, Canes fans actually get to see two rookies from the 2015 draft battle each other live and in person. That's how rare they are, and perhaps an indication of how fortunate the Canes are to have a 2015 draft rookie of their own playing in his 70th NHL game tonight. Eichel almost didn't make the trip after taking ill and missing a game Saturday as well as yesterday's practice, but is expected to be back in the lineup tonight.
  • The Sabres announced a roster signing yesterday, inking forward prospect Hudson Fasching to an entry level contract. Fasching just completed his junior season with the University of Minnesota and will join the Sabres later this week. He will not be in the lineup tonight.
  • Chad Johnson is expected to get the start in net for the Sabres. Robin Lehner (ankle injury) did not travel with the team and Nathan Lieuwen has been recalled from Rochester to back up Johnson, who has a 6-1-0 career record against the Canes including two wins this season.
  • Canes fans will see Derek Ryan in person tonight for the first time, getting his second call-up of the season and his first appearance on home ice. According to head coach Bill Peters, Ryan will slot in at center, which will require some shuffling to the third and fourth lines. Stay tuned for more information after the morning skate. Ryan Murphy is also expected to be back in the lineup on defense tonight, after missing one game with an upper body injury.
  • Unless you were living under a social media rock yesterday, you've already heard the news that Justin Faulk returned to practice for the first time since Feb. 24. After missing 17 of the last 18 games with an ankle injury, Faulk was able to skate with the team yesterday, albeit in a no-contact jersey. Though there is no definite timetable for his return, Faulk told the media he was glad to be back on the ice, and hopes to get back into the lineup before the end of the season.
  • The Canes are back in black tonight and are 7-0-4 this season in their alternate sweaters. The Canes are also hosting a 'Go Green' night, with commemorative green jerseys for warmups and several activities scheduled to raise awareness of environmental issues and impacts. For more information visit the Go Green page on the team website.

Projected Lineups

Hurricanes (updated 11:15 am from morning skate)

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

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

Cam Ward
Eddie Lack

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

Sabres (3/22 Sabres media reports)

Evander Kane - Ryan O'Reilly - Nicolas Deslauriers
Zemgus Girgensons - Jack Eichel - Sam Reinhart
Marcus Foligno - Johan Larsson - Brian Gionta
Cal O'Reilly - David Legwand - Matt Moulson

Josh Gorges - Rasmus Ristolainen
Jake McCabe - Zach Bogosian
Carlo Colaiacovo - Mark Pysyk

Chad Johnson
Nathan Lieuwen

Injuries and scratches: Cody Franson (neck), Tyler Ennis (concussion), Cody McCormick (blood clot), Robin Lehner (ankle)

Storm Debris

  • Canes Gameday Hub [].
  • Bill Peters post-practice media scrum 3/21 [].
  • Justin Faulk spoke with the media after yesterday's practice [] [N&O] [WRALSportsFan].
  • Canes Recall Derek Ryan from Charlotte [].
  • Cam Ward stopped by the Buzz Morning Show and crowed about his rookie defensemen and refused to divulge who he has in his NCAA bracket [WRALSportsFan].
  • Noah Hanifin is adjusting nicely to life in the NHL [The Hockey News].
  • The Hurricanes use of two defensemen and one forward in 3-on-3 overtime has been mostly ineffective [Today's Slapshot].
  • Sabres head coach Dan Bylsma remains hopeful Tyler Ennis (concussion) can return this season; meanwhile Jack Eichel is expected to play after illness [Buffalo News].
  • A long read about former Hurricanes captain Eric Staal, his brother Marc, and a hit that shook a family (really excellent read in preparation for 3/31) [NY Daily News].
  • Former Hurricane Kevin Westgarth has a new role in the executive suite of the NHL [LA Times].
  • Finally, twitter celebrated its 10th birthday yesterday. Here are some of its most outrageous hockey moments [Puck Daddy].