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At the Rink: Sabres at Hurricanes

by Kurt Dusterberg / NHL.com

RALEIGH, N.C. -- The Buffalo Sabres and Carolina Hurricanes are in the same boat early in the season, but it hasn't been smooth sailing.

The Sabres are coming off a disheartening 5-1 home loss to the Anaheim Ducks on Monday, one that left them searching for answers.

Sabres coach Ted Nolan was unhappy with the team in the moments after falling to 0-3-0. After the morning skate Tuesday he expressed the same sentiments.

"It's frustrating," Nolan said. "It's mind-boggling to me when you don't work and you don't compete. You don't need any skill set for that. You need some insides to go compete and battle."

Nolan was quick to act on his concern. Veteran defenseman Andrej Meszaros, who skated 21:10 against the Ducks, will be a healthy scratch against Carolina.

"Meszaros is not going to be the [only] casualty," Nolan said. "We just need him playing better. But we can't sit out 10 guys. We only have a limited group so nobody's safe from that position. I mean nobody."

Nolan was cautious with his words, careful to walk the line between motivating his players and having them lose faith early in the season.

"I never lost sight of the fact this is a good group of guys," he said. "For whatever reason it's not working."

Nolan will juggle his lines a bit, moving Cody Hodgson back to center, his natural position. Nolan believes Hodgson will benefit from have a pair of big wings, Marcus Foligno and Chris Stewart, feeding him the puck.

Carolina is in a similar situation, winless after two games. Captain Eric Staal is out because of an upper-body injury sustained in a 4-3 loss to the New York Islanders on Saturday. Already without Jeff Skinner (concussion) and Jordan Staal (broken leg), the Hurricanes will count on increased contributions throughout the lineup.

Carolina coach Bill Peters is still getting to know his group, but he doesn't sense a letdown after the two opening losses.

"You always worry about the atmosphere and the mood in the room and the energy at the rink," Peters said. "So far it's been good. We're going to have to work hard and get off to a good start."

With so many injuries among the forwards, the Hurricanes will dress 11 up front and go with seven defensemen.

The Hurricanes were hoping to have a goaltending battle between Cam Ward and Anton Khudobin, but so far it has not materialized. Ward gave up five goals in Carolina's opening loss, and Khudobin surrendered four in his start. Ward gets a second turn Tuesday.

"Wardo's been the better guy in my opinion," Peters said. "That's why we gave him the start to open the season. We'll go back to him here [Tuesday] and we will go from there."

The Hurricanes were a quiet group at the morning skate, perhaps feeling the weight of missing players and the continuing search for the first win.

"It's a tough start and I'm sure it's frustrating for everybody, but there's only so much you can do," defenseman Tim Gleason said. "You don't want to go 0-3. You're really behind the 8-ball there."

Here are the projected lineups:

SABRES

Matt Moulson - Tyler Ennis - Drew Stafford

Torrey Mitchell - Zemgus Girgensons - Brian Gionta

Marcus Foligno - Cody Hodgson - Chris Stewart

Nicolas Deslauriers - Sam Reinhart - Cody McCormick

Josh Gorges - Tyler Myers

Andre Benoit - Rasmus Ristolainen

Mike Weber - Tyson Strachan

Jhonas Enroth

Michal Neuvirth

Scratched: Andrej Meszaros, Brian Flynn

Injured: Matt Hackett (lower body), Patrick Kaleta (upper body), Jake McCabe (middle body), Mark Pysyk (upper body)

HURRICANES

Jiri Tlusty - Victor Rask - Elias Lindholm

Nathan Gerbe - Riley Nash - Alexander Semin

Brad Malone - Jay McClement - Patrick Brown

Chris Terry - Zach Boychuk

Andrej Sekera - Justin Faulk

John-Michael Liles - Tim Gleason

Jay Harrison - Ryan Murphy

Brett Bellemore

Cam Ward

Anton Khudobin

Scratched: Ron Hainsey

Injured: Jordan Staal (broken leg) Jeff Skinner (concussion), Eric Staal (upper body), Patrick Dwyer (lower body).

Status report: Skinner practiced in a yellow no-contract jersey Tuesday, centering a line with Terry and Boychuk, who was recalled from the Charlotte Checkers of the American Hockey League. Hainsey, who was a healthy scratch last game, or Bellemore will be scratched. The other will dress as a seventh defenseman. … Pysyk is close to returning to the Sabres lineup. Nolan said Pysyk needs to face some body contact in practice first.

Who's hot: Tlusty had a hat trick in the Hurricanes' 4-3 loss to the Islanders on Saturday. … Ennis has a two-game goal streak for the Sabres. Stafford has three assists in the past two games.

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