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Nilsson to start in net in Carolina

by Jourdon LaBarber @jourdonlabarber /

RALEIGH, N.C. - There was much to be made of the controversial calls against the Buffalo Sabres at the beginning and the end of their 4-2 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday, but what happened in between those calls was just as impactful. In the Sabres' own words, they were never able to get their feet moving to handle the Lightning's speed during a second period in which they were outscored 2-0. 

The Sabres expect to face a similar challenge in their meeting with the Carolina Hurricanes on Friday night.

"It was just a little bit too much of a track meet back and forth, playing to their strength in the second period," Bylsma said of the game against Tampa Bay. "That's a very similar to what we're going to face tonight against the Hurricanes. You can look at their lines and their lineup and draw similarities to how Tampa plays."

PNC Arena has been kind to the Hurricanes all this season, particularly in the Hurricanes' last 14 home games. The Hurricanes are 12-1-1 on home ice over that stretch, which dates back to Nov. 12 and includes a 2-1 shootout win against the Sabres on Dec. 17. 

That was one of two games the Sabres played against the Hurricanes this season; the other was a 3-1 loss in Buffalo five days later. 

"Last game we had our own fair share of fans here in the building and it was a little bit of a back and forth between the fans in the game where we came back in the third period and tied it," Bylsma said. "I don't know what we're going to expect here from Friday the 13th fans but they're a team that, again, plays with a lot of speed and a lot of skill. They're a fast-playing team and a fast team and that's one where we've got to be engaged right from the drop of the puck for us to get to our game."

Anders Nilsson will make his second start in as many nights for the Sabres after making 25 saves on 28 shots in Tampa on Thursday. Robin Lehner did not make the trip due to an illness, and Linus Ullmark will again serve as Nilsson's backup.

Nilsson's opponent is Cam Ward, who will make his 18th start in a row and the 600th appearance of his NHL career. Ward has manned the net in both games between the Hurricanes and Sabres this season, allowing two goals on 47 shots.

Coverage on Friday begins at 7 p.m. with the Tops Pregame Show on MSG-B, or you can listen live on WGR 550. The puck drops between the Sabres and Hurricanes at 7:30. 


Projected lineup

48 William Carrier - 90 Ryan O'Reilly - 21 Kyle Okposo
82 Marcus Foligno - 15 Jack Eichel - 12 Brian Gionta
9 Evander Kane - 23 Sam Reinhart - 56 Justin Bailey
44 Nicolas Deslauriers - 28 Zemgus Girgensons - 26 Matt Moulson

29 Jake McCabe - 55 Rasmus Ristolainen
47 Zach Bogosian - 6 Cody Franso
41 Justin Falk - 38 Taylor Fedun

31 Anders Nilsson 

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