CAROLINA HURRICANES (33-28-8-3, 77 pts.)
PITTSBURGH PENGUINS (36-26-9-2, 83 pts.) Fri., March 23,at 7 p.m.
BUFFALO SABRES (40-27-5-1, 86 pts.) Sat., March 24 at 7 p.m.
The Hurricanes face-off against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday in the final game of a three-game homestand at the Entertainment and Sports Arena before traveling to Buffalo to take on the Sabres on Saturday night. Carolina earned a 1-0 victory against Buffalo on Wednesday and has won its last three games. The Hurricanes are currently four points ahead of the Boston Bruins for the eighth playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Boston hosts the Montreal Canadiens Thursday night at the FleetCenter. The Hurricanes are also within five points of seventh-place Toronto, and have three games in hand on the Maple Leafs.
March 23FridayESA10:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.
March 24SaturdayBuffalo11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
March 25SundayIceplex11:15 a.m. – 1:15 p.m.
March 26MondayESA10:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.
March 27TuesdayESA11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
ON THE AIR:
Local Television: Friday: none; Saturday: HTS/FSN
Radio: WRBZ-850 AM (Raleigh); WCHL-1360 AM (Chapel Hill); WDNC 620-AM (Durham); WDZL 98.3FM (Murfreesboro); WFAY 1230/1450AM (Fayetteville); WSML 1200-AM (Graham); WRMT 1490-AM (Rocky Mount); WGHB 1250-AM (Greenville); WEEB 990-AM (Southern Pines); WMFR 1230-AM (High Point); WMFD 630-AM (Wilmington); WJNC 1240-AM (Jacksonville); WSJS 600-AM (Winston-Salem).Internet: www.nhl.com
The Hurricanes have killed off 31 consecutive penalties dating back to March 4 at Chicago. They have not allowed a power-play goal in the last seven games, matching a season-high. Goaltender Arturs Irbe is 3-0 in the last three games, allowing just one goal for a goals against average of 0.33 and a save percentage of .986.
CAROLINA AT HOME: 19-13-3-0 CAROLINA ON THE ROAD: 13-15-5-3 CAROLINA ON THE POWER PLAY: 63-of-340 (18.5%) CAROLINA SHORTHANDED: 279-of-320 (87.2%)
CAROLINA INJURY UPDATE:
Glen Wesley suffered a broken jaw and a severe facial laceration at Chicago on March 4. He is on the Injured Reserve List.
Rob DiMaio has a shoulder strain and is day-to-day.
CAROLINA / PITTSBURGH SERIES:
The Hurricanes won the first two meeting with Pittsburgh this season, knocking off the Penguins twice in Mellon Arena. On Oct. 18, Ron Francis was honored before the game as part of Pittsburgh’s All-Millennium team and celebrated the occasion by scoring the game-winner against his former team in a 3-2 win. On Nov. 22, Rod Brind’Amour, Jeff O’Neill, and Rob DiMaio scored as Carolina defeated Pittsburgh 3-1. Last season, the teams met four times and split the series, 2-2. Pittsburgh leads the all-time series 40-32-8, including a 19-18-1 advantage away from home.
Friday night’s game marks Penguins center Mario Lemieux’s first game against the Hurricanes. Lemieux has 61 points (31g, 30a) in 36 games since coming out of retirement on Dec. 27. RW Jaromir Jagr leads the NHL in scoring with 105 points (43g, 62a). Pittsburgh is currently in the sixth playoff slot in the Eastern Conference.
PITTSBURGH AT HOME: 20-15-2-0 PITTSBURGH ON THE ROAD: 16-11-7-2 PITTSBURGH ON THE POWER PLAY: 66-of-341 (19.4%) PITTSBURGH SHORTHANDED: 297-of-363 (81.8%)
CAROLINA / BUFFALO SERIES:
The Hurricanes and Sabres will meet for the second time in a span of four days Saturday at HSBC Arena. Carolina defeated Buffalo 1-0 on Wednesday at the Entertainment and Sports Arena to take a 2-1 lead in the season series. Buffalo dealt Carolina a 4-1 loss on Oct. 25, as Buffalo goaltender Dominik Hasek stopped 30 of 31 shots. The Hurricanes returned the favor with a 5-3 win in front of a sellout crowd (18,730) in Raleigh on Dec. 15. Jeff O’Neill leads all scorers in this season’s series with five points (2g, 3a) in the three games. The teams split their four-game series 2-2 last season. The Hurricanes are 52-73-17 all time against Buffalo, including a 30-32-10 record on home ice and a 22-41-7 record in Buffalo.
Buffalo, which played at Carolina the night after knocking off Toronto 3-0 in Buffalo, catches Carolina on the back half of back-to-back games for the second time this season. The Sabres defeated the Hurricanes on Oct. 25, 24 hours after the Hurricanes had hosted the San Jose Sharks. Buffalo made a pair of trade deadline day deals last week, acquiring Steve Heinze from the Columbus Blue Jackets and Donald Audette from the Atlanta Thrashers. Heinze scored four goals and added two assists in his first three games with Buffalo. Buffalo’s penalty kill is tops in the NHL at 87.5%.
BUFFALO AT HOME: 23-10-3-0 BUFFALO ON THE ROAD: 17-17-2-1 BUFFALO ON THE POWER PLAY: 52-of-338 (15.4%) BUFFALO SHORTHANDED: 258-of-295 (87.5%)
SCORING LEADERS AND GOALTENDERS
92 O’Neill 72352156
31 Moss113.84 1-6-0.853