SABRES (19-38-8) at HURRICANES (28-28-9)
TV: MSG-B, BELL TV, FS-CR
Last 10: Buffalo 4-6-0; Carolina 3-7-0
Season series: The Carolina Hurricanes and Buffalo Sabres split two previous games at First Niagara Center.
Big story: The Hurricanes have lost six of eight games since returning from the Olympic break on Feb. 25 and have a steep hill to climb to get back in the Stanley Cup Playoff picture. Carolina seeks to extend its home winning streak against the last-place Sabres to four. Buffalo comes to PNC Arena in the midst of a three-game losing streak.
Sabres: Coach Ted Nolan reportedly was frustrated with his team during a brief home practice Wednesday before boarding a plane for Raleigh, N.C. According to Paul Hamilton of WGR 550 radio in Buffalo, Nolan put his team through intense, repetitive skating drills for about 20 minutes before saying a few words and exiting.
"I don't really care what position you're in or what your skill set is, what I care about is the work that you put in, the effort that you put in, and we didn't put the effort in in the beginning of practice," Nolan said. "We've still got the season to go and attention to detail has to be our No. 1 priority."
Hurricanes: A substantial winning streak down the stretch is likely the only thing that will keep Carolina from missing the playoffs for a fifth straight season. After Thursday, the Hurricanes play four of their next five games on the road, where they have lost six of their past seven games.
Coach Kirk Muller had some good news following practice Wednesday; he said defenseman Justin Faulk is close to returning from an upper-body injury that has sidelined him since he was injured March 2 at the Anaheim Ducks.
"We pushed him around a little bit," Muller said of Faulk at practice. "We'll see how his recovery is [Thursday]."
Who's hot: Sabres right wing Drew Stafford can extend his goal streak to three games. … Hurricanes right wing Alexander Semin is in the midst of a five-game point streak with two goals and four assists.
Injury report: Sabres right wing Chris Stewart (high ankle sprain) is expected miss the remainder of the season. Forwards Zemgus Girgensons (lower body) and Torrey Mitchell (foot) have missed the past three games. … Hurricanes defenseman John-Michael Liles (concussion) missed the past two games and is out indefinitely. Faulk (upper body) might return Thursday.