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Hurricanes continue hectic week by facing Sabres

by Brian Hunter

HURRICANES (21-19-9) at SABRES (13-28-7)


Last 10: Carolina 7-3-0; Buffalo 3-4-3

Season series: This ends up as the first of three games between the Carolina Hurricanes and Buffalo Sabres, who were originally set to play Jan. 7 at First Niagara Center but had that game postponed until Feb. 25 due to a snowstorm. Carolina outscored Buffalo 13-7 in sweeping three games last season.

Big story: Mother Nature hasn't exactly been the Hurricanes' BFF over the past several weeks. The franchise had to juggle its schedule for this week after its road game against the Philadelphia Flyers was pushed back from Tuesday to Wednesday due to another storm. That, in turn, forced the Hurricanes to move a Friday night home game against the Ottawa Senators to Saturday afternoon because of NHL rules stating a team can't play on three consecutive days.

Team Scope:

Hurricanes: Jiri Tlusty was one of last season's breakthrough players when the Czech forward scored a career-high 23 goals in 48 games. The scoring touch hasn't been there this season, but Tlusty rescued Carolina after it blew a two-goal lead in Philadelphia. His goal with 6:10 remaining and Anton Khudobin's 22 saves gave the Hurricanes a 3-2 win to take with them to Buffalo.

While its opponent Thursday has struggled in close games of late, Carolina continues to excel. The Hurricanes have now played 27 one-goal games and come away with at least one point in 24 of them (15-3-9).

"We got the result we wanted," coach Kirk Muller said. "The guys came up big and played strong. That's a good win for us."

Sabres: Mired in a four-game winless stretch (0-2-2), Buffalo on Wednesday assigned forward Kevin Porter and defenseman Brayden McNabb to Rochester of the American Hockey League and recalled forward Philip Varone, who was leading the Americans in scoring with 33 points in 38 games.

All four losses (including a pair of shootouts) in the Sabres' current skid have been by 4-3 scores. While forward Marcus Foligno pointed after practice Wednesday to the offense coming around, it's now the defense that must follow suit.

"It's a difficult time we're trying to work through," defenseman Mike Weber said. "It's frustrating overall because of where we are in the standings. This isn't where we want to be."

Who's hot: Hurricanes forward Alexander Semin has four goals in his past three games. Center Eric Staal has one goal and four assists during a three-game point streak. … Sabres forward Drew Stafford has three goals and one assist in his past two games. Forward Tyler Ennis has two goals and four assists during a five-game point streak.

Injury report: Carolina forward Drayson Bowman (lower body) was out of the lineup Wednesday. Forward Patrick Dwyer (upper body) left the game in the second period and did not return. Goalie Cam Ward (lower body) joined his team at the morning skate prior to the postponement Tuesday but remains on injured reserve. … Buffalo forwards Cody McCormick (upper body) and Matt D'Agostini (upper body) are on injured reserve.

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