Perfect tailgating weather in mid-January. Happy Friday!
This is the gameday hub, where you can find all the latest news and information related to tonight's game featuring the Buffalo Sabres and Carolina Hurricanes in one handy location. Make this a regular stop throughout the day, as we update it with notes, videos, photos and more as puck drop draws near.
We'll be rinkside to bring you the latest from the Hurricanes morning skate at 10:30 a.m. at PNC Arena.
Last updated: 5:45 p.m.
BLUE CROSS AND BLUE SHIELD OF NORTH CAROLINA TOOLS TO VICTORY
Mike Maniscalco presents tonight's Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina three Tools to Victory.
Video: Tools to Victory: BUF vs. CAR
WARD SET FOR GAME NO. 600
Hurricanes goaltender Cam Ward is set to play in his 600th career NHL game tonight. Here's a piece I wrote on Ward two years ago, soon after he played in his 500th game.
Seven letters, two words. You can find them hand-inscribed on the bottom of each of Cam Ward's goalie sticks, right where the paddle meets the blade. It's a simple reminder of an important message.
"My parents said, 'The more fun you have, the better you do,'" said Ward, now a father of two, himself. "That was our golden rule growing up. I don't think that should change as a professional."
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IN THE ROOM
Go inside the Hurricanes room after practice and hear from defenseman Noah Hanifin and forward Brock McGinn.
Video: Noah Hanifin: "More enjoyable to come to the rink"
Video: Brock McGinn: "We're a confident group"
LINEUP NOTES AND PETERS QUOTES
The Hurricanes morning skate turned optional this morning. Around 15 players were on the ice with the assistant coaches. Brett Pesce did not make the trip in this morning and will be a game-time decision tonight, head coach Bill Peters said.
"Just a little wonky, wasn't quite right this morning," he said. "He'll come back in here this evening. I think he'll play."
Here's more from the head coach.
On tonight's opponent: "They're dangerous. They load three lines up … and they've got a lot of talent."
On "no easy nights" in the NHL: "You've got to come out, establish yourself early, play your game and play to your identity. It's very rare that you're going to win when you have a B-game in this league."
On having a balanced scoring attack: "We want everyone to contribute offensively. … We want guys to be responsible, two-way guys. If your skill set is that you're a scorer, then you've got to generate offense on a consistent basis."
On if he is superstitious: "No, not a bit."
Video: Bill Peters: "Team's gotten better as we went along"
CANES PROJECTED LINEUP
Cam Ward has already been confirmed to make his 18th consecutive appearance in net, and we expect everything else lineup-wise will remain consistent, as well. Of course, we'll confirm this at the morning skate and afterward with the head coach.
CANES OPEN SECOND HALF AGAINST SABRES
The second half of the season begins tonight for the Carolina Hurricanes, who host the Buffalo Sabres in their 42nd game of 2016-17.
The Hurricanes amassed a 19-15-7 record and 45 points in their first 41 games of the season. They currently sit just five points out of a playoff spot with a number of games in hand.
"We've got to win at a better clip and a better percentage rate than we did in the first half. We have to continue to get better," head coach Bill Peters said after practice on Thursday. "We've got to make sure we take advantage of the fact that we are playing well right now and have a good schedule."
Tonight's match-up against the Sabres, the third and final between the two teams this season, is the Hurricanes' third in a series of four straight at PNC Arena, a homestand that concludes in back-to-back fashion on Saturday against the New York Islanders. The Hurricanes won the first two games of this homestand, defeating the Bruins 4-3 in overtime and besting the league-leading Blue Jackets 5-3 on Tuesday, and are 12-1-1 in their last 14 games at home.
The Hurricanes enter tonight's season series finale against the Sabres with a 2-0-0 record against them this season. The Canes edged the Sabres 2-1 in a shootout on Dec. 17 in Raleigh and followed that up five days later with a 3-1 victory in Buffalo on Dec. 22. Carolina is 12-6-4 in its last 22 games against the Sabres, including a 6-1-1 mark in their last eight meetings at PNC Arena.
The Canes catch Buffalo on the second half of a back-to-back set with travel. On Thursday night, the Sabres fell 4-2 to the Lightning in Tampa Bay after earning points in four straight games (3-0-1).
Cam Ward is expected to tick off another games played milestone tonight, as he plays in NHL career game No. 600. According to Peters, Ward will make his 18th consecutive appearance in net. The veteran netminder owns a 9-5-2 mark in his last 17 starts.
"We'll reassesses once we get through that game and go from there," Peters said of the plan for his goaltenders in this weekend's back-to-back set. "It's a good schedule, a back-to-back with no travel. I like the way our schedule sets up all the way to the end of the month."
CANESPR NOTES: Jeff Skinner, who leads the Canes this season in both goals (15) and points (32), is a point shy of 300 in his career. … Derek Ryan notched his fifth multi-point game of the season on Tuesday, and he has points in two straight games (2g, 1a). The Canes are 5-1-0 this season when Ryan scores a goal.
CLICKS AND CLIPPINGS