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Gameday: Hurricanes at Sabres

by Michael Smith @MSmithCanes / CarolinaHurricanes.com

BUFFALO - Last stop of the roadie!

This is the gameday hub, where you can find all the latest news and information you need to know for tonight's road trip finale featuring the Carolina Hurricanes and Buffalo Sabres. Make Hurricanes.com a regular stop throughout the day, as we update this hub with notes, photos and more as puck drop draws near.

After landing in Buffalo on Wednesday, the Hurricanes practiced Thursday and have elected not to hold a morning skate. Gameday content, as per usual, will still be found right here.

Last updated: 6:35 p.m.


CANES LINES: WARM-UPS
6:35 p.m.

The Hurricanes are back on the East Coast, and we'll be seeing a tweaked lineup tonight, which is what the Canes toyed with in practice on Thursday.

Aho-Rask-Teravainen
McGinn-Staal-Williams
Skinner-Ryan-Lindholm
Nordstrom-Kruger-Di Giuseppe

Slavin-Pesce
Fleury-Faulk
Hanifin-van Riemsdyk

Ward
Darling

Puck drop from Buffalo is coming up in 30 minutes!

Tweet from @MSmithCanes: Warming up on a snowy Friday night in Buffalo. pic.twitter.com/EMMXBvrxNU


BLUE CROSS AND BLUE SHIELD OF NORTH CAROLINA TOOLS TO VICTORY
3:30 p.m.

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

1. Create Turnovers

The Sabres' defensive group is prone to giving away the puck when pressured. Creating turnovers in the Buffalo end will lead to grade-A chances for the Canes.

2. Win the First Period, Win the Game

The Canes are 6-1-2 when leading after 20 minutes this season. Jumping out to a lead against a team that played the night before should change the six to a seven in the win column.

3. Live in the Now

The Hurricanes can't look ahead to tomorrow night's game at home versus Columbus and can't look back to anything that happened on their marathon road trip. The key is to focus on tonight's game, the task at hand.


CANES CONCLUDE ROAD TRIP IN BUFFALO
12:00 a.m.

The Carolina Hurricanes have an opportunity to cap their season-long, six-game road trip with two consecutive victories when they visit the Buffalo Sabres on Friday night.

Having banked just two of a possible eight points to begin the trip, the Hurricanes made the most of their first-ever game in Vegas, defeating the Golden Knights 3-2 in a shootout. Cam Ward earned his 300th career NHL victory, while Brock McGinn and Phil Di Giuseppe scored goals in the skills competition.

"It was huge. You've got to continue to do good things," head coach Bill Peters said after a Thursday practice in Buffalo. "I thought we got contributions throughout the lineup. Krugs scored a big goal. Phil being used in the shootout; we all know he's got that type of skill."

The challenge now is to turn Tuesday night's victory, which came on the second half of a back-to-back, into something more meaningful by stringing together another two points in Buffalo.

A month ago, Sebastian Aho scored his third goal in as many games in the final five minutes of regulation and Scott Darling made 24 saves in a 3-1 win over the Sabres. In that game, the Canes were in town waiting on the Sabres, who lost 3-1 in Detroit the night prior. Now, the Canes are in the same situation, waiting on a team that saw its four-game point streak (2-0-2) snapped in a 2-1 loss in Philadelphia.

"They're healthier," Peters said of the Sabres. "Last time we were in here they had no Ristolainen or Bogosian. Those are two big pieces to their back-end, so you're adding two guys into the top four. It's going to make you better defensively and also offensively because you're not going to spend as much time in the D-zone. They're playing well right now."

While Friday night's tilt wraps up a back-to-back for the Sabres, it begins the Canes' sixth such set of the season. Carolina, who will then host Columbus on Saturday night, is 3-2-0 in the front half of back-to-backs so far this season.

Some different forward line combinations were deployed in practice on Thursday - Jordan Staal centering Brock McGinn and Justin Williams, Victor Rask centering Sebastian Aho and Teuvo Teravainen and Derek Ryan centering Jeff Skinner and Elias Lindholm -and it looked as if Cam Ward may make his second consecutive start in net.

All of that is subject to change, of course.

"We're looking at some different ways to generate some 5-on-5 offense," Peters said. "We're always looking to try to be solution-based."

And with the back-to-back this weekend, the goaltending picture is as expected.

"They're both going to play," Peters said. "We had real good dialogue about it this morning. Both guys have got good numbers head-to-head versus Buffalo. We've looked at a bunch of different things, and we're going to give it a little more thought."

CANESPR NOTES: The Canes are 10-4-2 in their last 16 games against the Sabres and 6-3-2 in their last 11 games in Buffalo. … Carolina is 10-3-2 this season when scoring first and 6-1-2 when leading after the first period. The team has scored first in five of its last seven games.


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