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Preview: Sabres at Hurricanes

Carolina goaltender Cam Ward to start 18th consecutive game; Buffalo looks to rise in Eastern Conference

by Kurt Dusterberg / NHL.com Correspondent

SABRES (16-16-9) at HURRICANES (19-15-7)

7:30 p.m. ET; MSG-B, FS-CR, NHL.TV

 
Sabres team scope

The Buffalo Sabres will complete a back-to-back following a 4-2 road loss at the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday, and look to close ground in the Eastern Conference standings. The Carolina Hurricanes, five points behind the Philadelphia Flyers for the second wild-card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the conference, lead the Sabres by four points. Carolina and Buffalo each has played 41 games. "We've won some games recently and gathered some points," Sabres coach Dan Bylsma said Thursday. "We had a chance to pass a team [Tampa Bay] in the standings and we missed that opportunity. That's something we're going to have to put behind us pretty immediately and get to the task of playing Carolina." Goaltender Anders Nilsson will make his third staright start. He made 25 saves for Buffalo on Thursday, stepping in for Robin Lehner, who has missed two games with an illness. Defenseman Zack Bogosian will play in his 500th NHL game.

 

Hurricanes team scope

Goaltender Cam Ward will make his 18th straight start and play in his 600th NHL game. With 285 career wins, he needs one to tie Dan Bouchard and Jose Theodore for 35th place on the League's all-time list. Defenseman Brett Pesce did not participate in Carolina's optional morning skate and will be a game-time decision. "He was a little wonky, just didn't feel right this morning," Hurricanes coach Bill Peters said. "I think he will play." Pesce, who plays on the top pair with Jaccob Slavin, is a team-best plus-13. Carolina has won both previous meetings with the Sabres this season (2-1 on Dec. 17 in Raleigh and 3-1 on Dec. 22 in Buffalo). The Hurricanes have won two straight at PNC Arena to lift their home record to 13-4-1. Forward Jeff Skinner, who leads the Hurricanes with 15 goals, is one point from 300 in his NHL career.

 

Sabres projected lineup 

William Carrier -- Ryan O' Reilly -- Kyle Okposo

Marcus Foligno -- Jack Eichel -- Brian Gionta

Evander Kane -- Sam Reinhart -- Justin Bailey

Nicolas Deslauriers -- Zemgus Girgensons -- Matt Moulson

Jake McCabe -- Rasmus Ristolainen

Zach Bogosian -- Cody Franson

Justin Falk -- Taylor Fedun

Anders Nilsson

Linus Ullmark

Scratched: none

Injured: Cody McCormick (blood clots), Tyler Ennis (groin), Dmitry Kulikov (back), Johan Larsson (wrist), Josh Gorges (hip), Robin Lehner (illness)

 

Hurricanes projected lineup

Jeff Skinner -- Victor Rask - Derek Ryan

Sebastian Aho -- Teuvo Teravainen -- Lee Stempniak

Brock McGinn -- Jordan Staal - Elias Lindholm

Joakim Nordstrom -- Jay McClement -- Viktor Stalberg

Jaccob Slavin -- Brett Pesce

Ron Hainsey -- Justin Faulk

Noah Hanifin - Matt Tennyson

Cam Ward

Michael Leighton

Scratched: Klas Dahlbeck, Ryan Murphy, Ty Rattie

Injured: Eddie Lack (concussion), Bryan Bickell (illness)

 

Status report

The Sabres did not hold a morning skate on Friday. ... The Hurricanes are beginning their ninth set of back-to-back games. They host the New York Islanders on Saturday.

 

Who's hot

Reinhart has 12 points (three goals, nine assists) in his past 11 games. … O'Reilly has six points (one goal, five assists) in four games since returning from an appendectomy. ... Ryan has five points (four goals, one assist) in his past four games. … Rask has five points (two goals, three assists) in his past four games. … Skinner has five points (two goals, three assists) in his past four games.

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