The Carolina Hurricanes are just three points out of a playoff position despite sitting in last place in the Metropolitan Division and look to continue their surge when they host the struggling Buffalo Sabres on Saturday. The Hurricanes rebounded from an embarrassing loss in Toronto by scoring four goals in the first period en route to a 4-1 triumph at Nashville on Thursday - their fourth victory in five games.
“I saw a ton of character,” Carolina goaltender Cam Ward told reporters Thursday after improving to 4-0-1 this month. “We had some guys eating some pucks today and, to be honest, they needed to. Those little details win hockey games.” It was a huge win for the Hurricanes after the 8-1 loss to Toronto and they open a three-game homestand against the Sabres, who outlasted Philadelphia 4-2 on Friday to end a three-game slide. Evander Kane registered a goal and an assist in the victory and has posted 10 points in 10 games this month for Buffalo, which has posted only three victories in its last 12 contests. The Sabres are last in the league in scoring (2.17 goals per game) but have recorded four goals in two of their last three games, including the 5-4 overtime loss to Carolina on Dec. 15.
TV: 7 p.m. ET, MSG (Buffalo), FSN Carolinas
ABOUT THE SABRES (9-19-7): Kane tops the team with 33 points while Jack Eichel, who registered his first career hat trick against the Hurricanes in the last meeting, reached 30 after scoring a pair of goals on Friday. Ryan O’Reilly also notched a goal and an assist in the victory over Philadelphia after posting a minus-4 rating over two straight pointless efforts and is third on the team with 23 points. Robin Lehner has allowed seven goals in his last four games, going 2-2-0 in that stretch, but could give way to backup Chad Johnson (1-5-3) in the second contest of the team’s back-to-back set.
ABOUT THE HURRICANES (15-12-7): Jeff Skinner is warming up with a goal and three assists over his last three games to tie Teuvo Teravainen, who has recorded just one of his 25 points in the last six contests, for the team scoring lead. Derek Ryan became the sixth Hurricane to reach 20 points after collecting two goals and three assists over his last four games while defenseman Noah Hanifin is one away from joining that group after posting four in his previous three contests. Carolina has earned points in 10 of 14 games at home (7-4-3), winning three in a row.
1. The Hurricanes have won five straight meetings, including a pair of victories in Buffalo already this season.
2. Carolina D Justin Faulk notched his 200th career point Thursday after being kept off the scoresheet in 12 straight games.
3. The Sabres are 2-4-2 in the second game of back-to-back sets this season and have won just one of their last 10 contests (1-5-4).
PREDICTION: Hurricanes 4, Sabres 1