HURRICANES (31-26-11) at SABRES (27-33-9)
TV: 1:00 p.m. ET; FS-CR, MSG-B, BELL TV, NHL.TV
Season series: Jack Eichel scored the game-winning goal in the Buffalo Sabres' 4-1 defeat of the Carolina Hurricanes at First Niagara Center on Nov. 27. Josh Gorges, Brian Gionta and David Legwand also scored for the Sabres. Victor Rask scored for the Hurricanes.
Hurricanes team scope: Phillip Di Giuseppe got credit for the overtime goal against the Boston Bruins on Thursday, but Jordan Staal's strong defensive play against the Bruins' David Pastrnak to defuse a scoring opportunity was just as important. Staal leads the Carolina with a plus-5 rating and is second among Hurricanes forwards with an average ice time of 18:03 per game. "He plays against the best every night," assistant coach Rod Brind'Amour told the Raleigh News and Observer. "Check the score sheet of the other team's best players and they're hardly ever on it or not a big factor." Coach Bill Peters said knowing Staal is on the ice makes his job easier. "You don't have to worry about the next 45 seconds. That's a very nice luxury to have."
Sabres team scope: Ryan O'Reilly skated Friday for the first time since sustaining a lower-body injury Feb. 19. He was on a secondary rink while his teammates were on the ice on the main rink. The belief was that O'Reilly would need 3-4 weeks to recover; Friday marked three weeks. "Three weeks was a date to see the doctor and the fact that he's gotten on the ice is an indication that he's had some healing and some progression," coach Dan Bylsma told the Sabres website. "Hopefully as he gets tested on the ice significantly today, hopefully we can continue to progress into next week when we practice Monday and Tuesday." Goaltender Robin Lehner and defenseman Zach Bogosian did not practice Friday. Bylsma said they were given maintenance days and expects they will be available Saturday.