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Gameday: Hurricanes at Sabres

by Michael Smith @MSmithCanes /

BUFFALO - Last road trip before the break!

This is the gameday hub, where you can find all the latest news and information related to tonight's match-up featuring the Carolina Hurricanes and Buffalo Sabres in one handy location. Make this a regular stop throughout the day, as we update it with notes, photos and more as puck drop draws near.

The Hurricanes will hold an 11:30 a.m. morning skate at KeyBank Center, and we'll be rinkside to bring you the latest.

Last updated: 3:05 p.m.

3:05 p.m.

Mike Maniscalco presents tonight's Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina three Tools to Victory.

1. Get In Front of the Goalie

Robin Lehner is a big guy, and getting in front and making it hard for him to see is a must. That means setting screens when the shot is coming from the point.

2. Be Active in Passing Lanes

Read the play and get sticks in the way of passes to set up rushes. This also prevents puck possession for the Sabres.

3. Build on the Lead

Getting off to the early lead is great. Getting the second goal to extend it on the road is just as important, maybe more so.

2:10 p.m.

12:35 p.m.

Head coach Bill Peters spoke with the media in Buffalo after the morning skate. Here are some highlights.

On tonight's game after some unexpected time off in between games: "We'll be good. We've been good for a long time. I expect us to be good today and again tomorrow and go into the Christmas break."

On playing Buffalo twice within the same week: "Both teams will be familiar with each other, make adjustments and away you go. … It will be a good game, I guarantee you that. They're playing well, and they're healthy. We're playing well right now, too, so I expect a real competitive game."

On stability throughout the lineup: "Everyone gets into their roles. When Jordo and Lindy were out, everyone assumed different roles. Now that they're back, roles have changed slightly, but people are in their roles and understand their roles. If they accept their roles and execute within that, you become a very good team and deeper. That's what we are right now."

On Stempniak's chemistry with Teravainen and Aho: "He's got really good hockey sense, and he's a finisher by trade. The other two look to make plays. Two young guys with an older guy who can help them on the bench, talk to them and be a mentor in that regard. He's a real good player, and I like him no matter where he plays. Now he seems to have found a comfort level with those two guys."

11:30 a.m.

Here's how the Hurricanes lined up this morning at KeyBank Center, ahead of their match-up with the Buffalo Sabres.




This is a familiar look, with the one noticeable change being Eddie Lack's return from IR. He'll back up Cam Ward tonight.

6:00 a.m.

For the first time in nearly two weeks, the Carolina Hurricanes are back on the road, albeit briefly, as the team travels to Buffalo to face off with the Sabres for the second time in less than a week before returning home to host the Boston Bruins on Friday night.

What was supposed to be two games against the Sabres sandwiching a match with Detroit, the last in a four-game homestand, has turned in to a home-and-home with Buffalo separated by five days.

On Saturday, the latter half of the Hurricanes' fourth back-to-back set of the season, Carolina topped Buffalo 2-1 in a shootout, redemption from dropping a 4-3 shootout decision a night prior against Washington.

"It was a tight game throughout the whole match," Jordan Staal said after Saturday's win. "Shootouts have been a sore spot for us. Wardo did a great job and a couple big goals from two skilled guys got us over the top."

A scheduled game against Detroit on Monday was postponed due to ice issues, which could not be rectified in order to face-off at a suitable time. The Hurricanes had a planned off day on Tuesday and returned to the ice surface eat PNC Arena on Wednesday.

"We were ready to play. We wanted to play. We had a good pregame skate," head coach Bill Peters said of Monday night. "There's nothing you can do. We stayed waiting for information, and as we got information, we reacted."

The Hurricanes bring to Buffalo a three-game point streak (2-0-1), and while within the friendly confines of PNC Arena, the Canes extended their home point streak to nine games (8-0-1). The team now hopes to replicate that on the road, where they've won just four games this season.

After falling to the Hurricanes in a shootout, the Sabres dropped a 4-3 shootout decision in Florida on Tuesday. Buffalo has won three of its last four games at home, a stretch that includes two overtime victories, and the team trails the Hurricanes by a point in the standings.

Cam Ward is expected to start in net tonight for the Hurricanes. Ward has earned 12 wins and two shutouts in his regular-season career against the Sabres. Eddie Lack was activated from injured reserve on Wednesday, and Michael Leighton was reassigned to Charlotte in a corresponding roster move. Lack missed the team's last 14 games with a concussion.

CANESPR NOTES: This marks the sixth of 16 back-to-back sets for the Hurricanes this season. The Canes are 1-2-2 in the front halves and 4-1-0 in the back halves. … Carolina has posted an 11-6-4 in their last 21 games against the Sabres, and the team is 5-1-1 in its last seven games played in Buffalo.




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